Top Ten "Keystone Species"

Keystone species are species that within their own ecosystems are irreplaceable, or so it is argued. Nothing else within their ecosystem can fill the void were this species to go extinct. They are considered essential to keeping the biodiversity of any given ecosystem in balance. Take these species out of their particular ecosystems, and the system would suffer, fail or quite possibly collapse. Give these species their proper respect, they are carrying a lot of responsibility. They are not necessarily the top predator within a particular ecosystem, but that is oftentimes the case, as these species tend to keep prey animals numbers in check, and therefore keep the whole system in balance. The wonder of nature's self regulating is personified in these species. Feel free to add any that you believe to be a keystone to their ecosystems.
The Top Ten
1 Sea Otters

These guys clearly love to play in their spare time, kinda funny to watch em play. So is that their keystone contribution, comedic relief? No, but most would agree that's a nice aside.
Sea otters prey on sea urchins. In turn, sea urchins feed on kelp forests. Left unchecked, sea urchins can decimate kelp forests, and this has a negative impact on many creatures that rely on the kelp for survival. The whole ecosystem suffers, or fails. Thanks sea otters.

2 Beavers The beaver is a primarily nocturnal, large, semiaquatic rodent. Castor includes two extant species, the North American beaver and Eurasian beaver. Beavers are known for building dams, canals, and lodges.

Beavers are ecosystem engineers, and their dam building provides still water, which allows a host of other species to flourish.

3 Wolves The wolf (Canis lupus), also known as the gray wolf or grey wolf, is a large canine native to Eurasia and North America. More than thirty subspecies of Canis lupus have been recognized, and gray wolves, as popularly understood, comprise wild subspecies. The wolf is the largest extant member of the family Canidae. It is also distinguished from other Canis species by its less pointed ears and muzzle, as well as a shorter torso and a longer tail. The wolf is nonetheless related closely enough to smaller Canis species, such as the coyote and the golden jackal, to produce fertile hybrids with them. The banded fur of a wolf is usually mottled white, brown, gray, and black, although subspecies in the more.

Wired to take out the weak, sick, young and elderly, it's commonly known that these guys actually help ensure the overall health of their prey species. Apex predators tend to keep the balance in their ecosystems through this same behavior.
Now, it's true this branch of predators is the bane of farmers of livestock in their ecosystem, as they do indeed take the easy meal sometimes provided by this interaction. To that point, I would simply say that it is us who have encroached on their ecosystem, and not the other way around.

They are also responsible for regulating deer populations. When deer are overpopulated, they tend to destroy natural fauna, preventing birds and other animals living in it – which is why predators such as wolves mark as a significant animal in the keystone species.

4 African Elephants African elephants are elephants of the genus Loxodonta. The genus consists of two extant species: the African bush elephant, L. africana, and the smaller African forest elephant, L. cyclotis.

On the savannahs of Africa, these magnificent creatures graze on small trees. This allows sunlight to reach the grass below. The grasslands flourish, and provide an essential food source for a myriad of animals, and in turn, provides cover for predators stalking these herds. Without the elephants (and other tree leaf munchers) the savannah would become a forest or scrublands.

5 Bees

Pollinators. The plants flourish and provide shelter and food for insects, and they in turn become food for other creatures, including birds.
The bee/plant relationship is also highly symbiotic, mutually assured existence.

The bee population is sadly in decline, mostly due to all the chemicals us humans use in our fields.

6 Jaguars The jaguar (Panthera onca) is a large cat species and the only living member of the genus Panthera native to the Americas. With a body length of up to 1.85 m (6 ft 1 in) and a weight of up to 158 kg (348 lb), it is the largest cat species in the Americas and the third largest in the world. Its distinctively marked coat features pale yellow to tan colored fur covered by spots that transition to rosettes on the sides, although a melanistic black coat appears in some individuals. The jaguar's powerful bite allows it to pierce the carapaces of turtles and tortoises, and to employ an unusual killing method: it bites directly through the skull of mammalian prey between the ears to deliver a fatal more.

Another apex predator. In the rainforests of Central and South America, they prey on a wide variety of species (87), and keep those prey animals numbers in check.

7 American Alligators

The American Alligator digs burrows in the sand that provide them with warmth, when they leave, the burrow provides many a species with a new home. The alligators also are an apex predator, and keep prey animals numbers in check.

8 Hummingbirds Hummingbirds are birds from the Americas that constitute the family Trochilidae. They are among the smallest of birds, most species measuring 7.5–13 cm. they are the cutest birds in the world

They pass down nectar

9 Starfish Starfish or sea stars are star-shaped echinoderms belonging to the class Asteroidea. Common usage frequently finds these names being also applied to ophiuroids, which are correctly referred to as brittle stars or "basket stars".

Starfish eat mussels, who have no other natural predators. Without the starfish, the mussels would overwhelm their particular ecosystem and many other species would suffer, or die off.

In areas where boating in fresh water lakes is popular, it's important that boaters check their watercrafts for these mussels before and after each launch, as the mussels attach and spread to other bodies of water. The result is devastating, as there are no starfish to prey on the mussels. Mussels are often times an invasive species.

10 Aardwolves
The Contenders
11 Killer Whales The orca or killer whale (Orcinus orca) is a toothed whale belonging to the oceanic dolphin family, of which it is the largest member. It is recognizable by its black-and-white patterned body. A cosmopolitan species, orcas can be found in all of the world's oceans in a variety of marine environments, from Arctic and Antarctic regions to tropical seas. more.

Yes, as apex predators these guys provide balance to the population of prey species within their ecosystems. Thanks 4 adding.

Beautiful and intelligent creatures. Consider yourself lucky if you spot one while kayaking!

12 Pacific Salmon

The Salmon die after spawning, and provide a feast for many other creatures, including bears and eagles.

13 Amazon River Dolphins
14 Anacondas Anacondas are group of large snakes of the genus Eunectes. They are large snakes found in tropical South America.
15 Gopher Tortoises

This tortoise digs large burrows, which provides shelter for over 350 species. Thanks bud.

16 Tiger Sharks The tiger shark is a species of requiem shark and the only extant member of the genus Galeocerdo. It is a large macropredator, capable of attaining a length over 5 m. Populations are found in many tropical and temperate waters, especially around central Pacific islands.

They'll eat almost anything, including sea turtles and dugongs in the Western Australian seagrass beds. Take them out of that ecosystem and the seagrass gets over grazed. Fish lay their eggs in the seagrass. More sea turtles and dugongs = less fish, and less prey for other species.

17 Cheetahs The cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) is a large cat and native to Africa and central Iran. It is the fastest land animal, estimated to be capable of running at 80 to 128 km/h (50 to 80 mph) with the fastest reliably recorded speeds being 93 and 98 km/h (58 and 61 mph), and as such has several adaptations for speed, including a light build, long thin legs and a long tail. It typically reaches 67–94 cm (26–37 in) at the shoulder, and the head-and-body length is between 1.1 and 1.5 m (3 ft 7 in and 4 ft 11 in). Adults weigh between 21 and 72 kg (46 and 159 lb). Its head is small and rounded, and has a short snout and black tear-like facial streaks. The coat is typically tawny to creamy white or pale buff and is mostly covered with evenly spaced, solid black spots. Four subspecies are recognised. more.

Thanks for adding.

18 Asian Elephants
19 Eagles Eagle is the common name for many large birds of prey of the family Accipitridae. Eagles belong to several groups of genera, some of which are closely related. Most of the 60 species of eagle are from Eurasia and Africa. Outside this area, just 14 species can be found - 2 in North America, 9 in Central and South America, and 3 in Australia. Eagles are not a natural group but denote essentially any kind of bird of prey large enough to hunt sizeable (about 50 cm long or more overall) vertebrates. Eagles are also one of America's national symbols.

Thanks for adding.

20 Prairie Dogs Despite the name, they are not canines. Prairie dogs (genus Cynomys) are herbivorous burrowing rodents native to the grasslands of North America. The five species are: black-tailed, white-tailed, Gunnison's, Utah, and Mexican prairie dogs. They are a type of ground squirrel, found in the United States, Canada and Mexico.
21 Earthworms
22 Pangolins
23 Aardvarks

They eat yucky ants

24 White-tailed Deer
25 Anteaters Anteater is a common name for the four extant mammal species of the suborder Vermilingua commonly known for eating ants and termites.

They eat yucky ants

8Load More
PSearch List