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A team of federal scientists addressed comments from researchers who disagree with their conclusions that river channel evolution is driven primarily by physical factors rather than an overabundance of elk after wolf eradication.

The team, led by USGS geologist Amy East, does not dismiss the influence of elk on river-bank vegetation, but contend that the weight of evidence indicates floods and other physical drivers have dominated the change in river channels during the last 70 years while biological drivers are secondary. The disagreement highlights the difficulties of determining the causes of ecological change in a complex world. Read the original paper and the reply. View a 360° panorama of the area shown in the photo above.

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