Keystone Species Essay Example
Yes, I have held a keystone species in my hand and have seen first hand how they make an impact in the environment. If any of these species were to be erased from our planet it would change the entire environment.
The Starfish, the keystone species I held, is the species that launched Robert Paine’s keystone species concept. He believed that if you remove one species it would dramatically change the landscape and the ecosystem of an area. He tested his theory by controlling a section of shore line, basically every day he found starfish in tide pools he would toss them back to sea. Pain observed a huge influence on biodiversity that the starfish had on the landscape where they remained. The area where he removed the starfish was soon overcrowded by muscles, pushing out 15 other species and disrupting the balance.
You may ask how do keystone species play a role in their environment? Well, Keystone species have a low functional redundancy , which means without the keystone species no other species would be able to fill its environment role. That would lead to the ecosystem admetitly changing. The keystone species perform an important role in maintaining the local biodiversity of an ecological community by the control of the population of an ecosystem and determining the numbers.
Now let's look at the Elephant, they are a keystone species in eastern and southern Africa. They eat about 300 pounds of vegetation per day. Since they eat and uproot small trees and shrubs this allows for the grasses to grow, the grasses feed many other herbivores like zebras, wildebeests and antelope. If the Elephant were removed from the ecosystem the trees and shrubs would take over in a forest way hurting the grass and therefore hurting the other herbivores. The sad part is that we might not see or notice the change initially until it was too late to fix and we would lose all of the other animals.
In conclusion, you can't change one thing without affecting everything else. By removing a species from the environment we are creating a different landscape and that will ultimately end up changing us since we are all connected.