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Keystone Species Definition

A keystone species is a species that is necessary to maintain ecosystem health. Without it, the ecosystem would change drastically.

View Lesson on Maintaining Biodiversity
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Maintaining Biodiversity

Fun Facts

  • Keystone species are not the same in every ecosystem.
  • Removing sea stars, the keystone species in tide pools, causes ecosystems to collapse.
  • Sea otters are keystone species in nearshore kelp forests.

Why Do We Need To Know About Keystone Species

Learning about keystone species helps us know how ecosystems work and why having many different kinds of life is important for people to survive. Keystone species, like wolves in Yellowstone, have a big job in keeping ecosystems healthy. Their presence can affect the whole ecosystem, like how wolves help control the number of other animals and help lots of different plants and animals thrive.

This knowledge is useful for jobs. People who work in saving nature and making rules to protect the environment need to understand about keystone species. They use this knowledge to make plans to keep the variety of life safe, which helps keep ecosystems working well. This is important for the health of the planet and for people too.

Frequently Asked Questions

Explain why biodiversity in an ecosystem is important.
Biodiversity in an ecosystem is important because it helps an ecosystem stay healthy.
Give an example of a keystone species and what can happen if it is removed or leaves an ecosystem.
A sea star is an example of a keystone species, and without it the ecosystem can collapse, like the tide pool example from the video.
How are food webs used to help explain ecosystem interactions?
Food webs are models of the interactions that happen between the organisms found in the ecosystem. They can be used to explain how matter cycles and energy flows, and it is useful in making predictions about the food resources needed to maintain biodiversity in the ecosystem.
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