Tag Archives: Isle Royale

Isle Royale Wolf-Moose News Article in “Nature”

The monumental Isle Royale Wolf/Moose Study, which has been active for more than fifty years, has been a riveting drama to follow. In recent years, the wolf population has been in decline, raising questions as to the future of the wolf on Isle Royale. Below-average temperatures this winter have created an ice bridge between Isle Royale and the mainland, a fairly-rare and potentially promising event for the wolves of Isle Royale. Read what Michigan Tech’s Rolf Peterson and John Vucetich have to say on the subject in this week’s issue of Nature http://www.nature.com/news/iconic-island-study-on-its-last-legs-1.14697 and don’t miss the link to the editorial at the end of the article.


In the News – Peterson and Vucetich

A news story by Associated Press wire service about the latest research on the wolves and moose of Isle Royale National Park, conducted by Professor Emeritus Rolf Peterson and Associate Professor John Vucetich , was published by newspapers nationwide, including the San Francisco Chronicle and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. It was also aired by radio and TV stations. See SF Gate.


The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has posted an eight-minute audio slide show on its web site about Michigan Tech’s ongoing wolf-moose research at Isle Royale National Park. The presentation features Professor Emeritus Rolf Peterson and Associate Professor John Vucetich, as well as their colleague, Michael Nelson, an environmental ethicist at Michigan State University. Although the audio slide show is accessible only to members of AAAS, a free three-day trial membership will enable you to see it. Sign up for the free trial membership at AAAS.


Special Volunteer Opportunity: Wolf-Moose Research Program

Isle Royale, Summer 2012. Isle Royale MooseJoin us in the field for a Moosewatch research expedition as part of the Wolf-Moose Study program on Isle Royale!
Do you have an interest in wildlife ecology and wolf-moose dynamics? Are you passionate about wilderness camping and our National Parks? Are you a hardy soul with a tolerance for bugs, lack of conveniences, and long days of rugged hiking? If so, please consider a special opportunity to volunteer for the renowned wolf-moose study at Isle Royale National Park. Expedition teams are being organized right now
Expedition #1: May 5–13, via Voyageur II, Grand Portage, MN
Expedition #2: May 14– 21, via Queen IV, Copper Harbor, MI
Expedition #3: May 26–June 3, via Voyageur II, Grand Portage, MN
Expedition #4: July 31–August 8, via Ranger III, Houghton, MI

Please visit www.isleroyalewolf.org (click on Research Expeditions) to learn about how you can participate this summer. You will find information about the Moosewatch research expeditions, photos, and how to apply. If you have specific questions, please contact Ken Vrana (kjvrana@mtu.edu), director, Isle Royale Institute.

We hope to see some of you on the island this summer!
John Vucetich and Leah Vucetich
Rolf Peterson and Candy Peterson



In the News: John Vucetich and Rolf Peterson

Assistant Professor John Vucetich and Research Professor Rolf Peterson contributed to “Great Lakes National Parks in Peril,” a report released Wednesday by the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization and the Natural Resources Defense Council. The report fingers climate change as a cause for the slump in Isle Royale National Park’s moose population and the subsequent decline in the number of wolves. The report is available park.


Sustainability: Will We Recognize It When We See It?

eco-friendlyJuly 1, 2010—By Jennifer Donovan

Most people today embrace sustainability as a good thing, and it may be the greatest technological challenge our society has ever faced.

But, in a paper just published in the journal BioScience, Michigan Technological University wildlife ecologist John A. Vucetich and Michigan State University environmental ethicist Michael Nelson say that the technological challenge of sustainability pales in comparison to the ethical crisis it presents to society. 

In a paper titled “Sustainability: Virtuous or Vulgar?” Vucetich and Nelson examine the most widely-accepted definitions of sustainability, which indicate at least roughly that sustainability is: meeting human needs in a socially-just manner without depriving ecosystems of their health.  While the definition sounds quite specific, it could mean anything from “exploit as much as desired without infringing on the future ability to exploit as much as desired” to “exploit as little as necessary to maintain a meaningful life,” the scientist and ethicist say.

“From a single definition arise two wildly disparate views of a sustainable world,” says Vucetich, who teaches in Michigan Tech’s School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science and leads a long-running study of the wolves and moose of Isle Royale National Park. “Handling these disparate views is the inescapable ethical crisis of sustainability.”

“The crisis results from not knowing what we mean by value-laden terms like ‘ecosystem health’ and ‘human needs.’” Nelson says, “In other words, is ecosystem health defined only by its ability to meet human needs, or does ecosystem health define the limits of human need?”

Solving the dilemma boils down to knowing the extent to which sustainability is motivated by concern for nature.  Or as Vucetich puts it: “Are we concerned for nature because nature is intrinsically valuable, or only because of what nature can do for us?”

Nelson adds, “These questions are as difficult to answer as it is necessary to answer them.  We are unlikely to achieve sustainability without knowing what it means.” 

More disturbingly, Vucetich and Nelson point out that almost no effort is spent trying to answer this question.  For example, universities have hired dozens of academics in recent years to solve sustainability problems.  None of these academics work on the ethical crisis of sustainability. Likewise, the National Science Foundation’s interdisciplinary funding program for sustainability research makes no reference to ethics, and the word “ethic” appears in only one of the titles, abstracts or keywords of the 119 projects funded so far.

Vucetich and Nelson do not advance a particular interpretation of sustainability. Rather they show us why it is so important that all segments of society–academics and the general public, the public and private sectors–confront the inescapable dilemma that sustainability represents. 

“The first goal ought to be a citizenry that has enough ethical knowledge to be able to just talk about these issues intelligently,” Vucetich says.  Nelson goes on to say “This is unlikely to happen until social leaders, including academics from all disciplines develop for themselves enough ethical knowledge to be able to teach the broader public how to approach these questions.  Then, hopefully, answers will emerge.”

They conclude, “If we attain sustainability, it will not only require critical changes in technology, but also the most profound shift in ethical thought witnessed in the last four centuries.”

The National Science Foundation provided support for the research on which this article is based.

Michigan Technological University (mtu.edu) is a leading public research university developing new technologies and preparing students to create the future for a prosperous and sustainable world. Michigan Tech offers more than 130 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering; forest resources; computing; technology; business; economics; natural, physical and environmental sciences; arts; humanities; and social sciences.