Understanding Keystone Species
Keystone species are generally predators; they play an important role in how an ecosystem functions by controlling the population of prey species. Without keystone species, an ecosystem would not only be significantly changed, but may even cease to exist. A decline in the population of a keystone species has a domino effect on the species lower in the food chain, potentially leading to their extinction, as well as creating severe imbalances in the ecosystem. To learn more about keystone species, including the role of individual species such as mountain lions, read the educational article by National Geographic provided below.