Posted by: Kirsten | Sunday, 2 December 2007

The Isle Royale Wolf/Moose Study

Predator & Prey—50 Years of Interdependence

Scientists from Michigan Tech have been studying the interactions of wolves and moose at Michigan’s Isle Royale National Park for nearly half a century. Now a consortium of educational, governmental and natural resources organizations has Isle Royale Wolf/Moose Studybanded together to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the longest continuous predator-prey study ever conducted. Throughout 2008, the National Park Service, Michigan Tech and partners in three states will host a series of events and programs and produce anniversary posters, books, lesson plans and other special materials.

Anniversary activities will focus on education. “The anniversary is a fantastic opportunity to get kids excited about science and to inform the public about wolves, moose, conservation of natural resources and the conduct of scientific research, ” said Phyllis Green, superintendent of Isle Royale National Park. Teachers and students will find lesson plans and information about the wolf-moose study at the Isle Royale Institute (IRI) website.

In the late 1940s, a pack of wolves made the treacherous trip across 15 to 20 miles of frozen waters of Lake Superior to Isle Royale, located not far from the Canadian border. There they found a wilderness island safe from hunters and traffic and home to an abundant moose herd. The wolves settled in to a self-contained ecosystem where they were virtually the only predators and the moose were their primary prey.

Conditions on the island made an ideal laboratory for scientific study of the predator-prey relationship free from outside influences. In 1958, biologist Durward Allen launched the Isle Royale wolf-moose study, chronicling population fluctuations of both kinds of animals and observing wolf-moose interaction and environmental changes to help explain these fluctuations.


The following lesson plans were developed by teachers who have participated in courses through the IRI and are made available for all teachers through their website. Use them as they are, or as a springboard to new ideas on engaging your kids in the fascinating world of wolves, moose, and island ecosystems.  And be sure to visit the website as additional lesson plans become available.

Featured Lesson Plans

A Visit with Wolves: Exploring Isle Royale Through Literature Circles and Blogging explores science, literature, and the skills of observation and inquiry through a series of lessons and reading assignments. These interdisciplinary lessons were designed for middle school students.

The Big Bad(?) Wolf addresses wolf facts, students opinions and knowledge of wolves, and lessons learned from the Isle Royale research. Students analyze actual data from Isle Royale in a lessons designed for middle school and high school life science and math.

Trapezoids, Area, and Moose Population Estimates investigates the importance of math in wildlife studies by analyzing the methods used for annual moose population estimates at Isle Royale. This math lesson for high school students includes a writing component with a persuasive essay.

Isle Royale Ecology — Middle School

Isle Royale Ecology — High School

Winter Ecology


Compiled from the Michigan Tech and Isle Royale Institute websites

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Responses

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