Linking Keystone Species and Functional Groups: A New Operational Definition of the Keystone Species Concept

Article English OPEN
Robert D. Davic (2003)
  • Publisher: Resilience Alliance
  • Journal: Ecology and Society (issn: 1708-3087)
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.5751/ES-00502-0701r11
  • Subject: keystone species | competition | dominance | feeding guilds | functional groups | power laws | species diversity | biomass dominance | Biology (General) | QH301-705.5 | Ecology | QH540-549.5

The concept of the "keystone species" is redefined to allow for the a priori prediction of these species within ecosystems. A keystone species is held to be a strongly interacting species whose top-down effect on species diversity and competition is large relative to its biomass dominance within a functional group. This operational definition links the community importance of keystone species to a specific ecosystem process, e.g., the regulation of species diversity, within functional groups at lower trophic levels that are structured by competition for a limited resource. The a priori prediction of keystone species has applied value for the conservation of natural areas.
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