Keystone species

A species that plays a major ecological role in determining the composition and structure of an ecological community; if a keystone species disappears, the whole community will change. The African elephant is one example of a keystone species. 1 [ALSO] A species that plays an important ecological role in determining the overall structure and dynamic relationships within a biotic community. A keystone species presence is essential to the integrity and stability of a particular ecosystem. 2

  • 1. Source: (USAID 2005) from "USAID Biodiversity Primer"
  • 2. Source:(EFI 2002) from European Forest Institute, Internal Report No. 6, 2002 "Compliation of Forestry Terms and Definitions" by Schuck, Paivinen, Hytonen, and Pajari.