Center Summer Intern Considers Human Effect on the Plains
Through the Center's internship program, Michelle Berry spent her summer at the American Prairie Reserve, a Montana-based nonprofit that acquires and manages land trusts in the West. Her research on the historical wildlife populations in northeastern Montana was featured in The National Geographic Society's NewsWatch blog.
"Looking back in time, who was the top predator of the American prairie ecosystem? Wolves, grizzly bears… humans? As I continue my research of historic wildlife populations in northeastern Montana, it is important to consider how changes in human populations were affecting the ecology of this area. There was a tendency among European and American explorers to romanticize the landscapes they encountered as pristine paradises flourishing with wild animals and vegetation. In fact, this land had been inhabited by hundreds of thousands of humans that had shaped the ecosystem in variable ways."