Rolf O. Peterson

Rolf O. Peterson
"The challenge of wild carnivore restoration."


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  • Research Professor
  • PhD, Wildlife Ecology, Purdue University
  • BA, Zoology, University of Minnesota

”Blond, fit and Nordic” according to one popular writer.

One of the biggest recent changes in the wild ecosystems of North America is recovery of wild carnivores, exemplified by the gray wolf. My research, which concentrates on the ecology of the wolf and its prey, helps provide the scientific foundation for political, social, and ecological responses to carnivore recovery. This is a challenge because these species may compete directly with human interests and we have typically persecuted them for centuries.

My primary study site is Isle Royale National Park, where the wolf-moose study is the world's longest wildlife study. Recently I have had graduate students working with collaborators in government research in Yellowstone (National Park Service) and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (MI Department of Natural Resources). The School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science at MTU is strategically placed, geographically and in terms of faculty expertise, to play a key role in understanding the broad implications of carnivore recovery.

Areas of Expertise

  • Mammalian ecology
  • Predator-prey relationships
  • Ecology and behavior of gray wolves