Sea otters are considered to be a keystone species. They keep sea urchins in check that would otherwise demolish kelp forests. If the otters are removed, the whole ecosystem collapses.
Another great example is the sea star, which usually preys on bivalves that may have no other natural predators. Jaguars are also another example of a predator keystone species. Because their diet consists of almost all the mammalian population of the surrounding jungles, it helps to ensure that the jungle can continue to thrive. There are also other examples of keystone species that are not predators, such as mutualist keystone species and ecosystem engineer keystone species.
Keystone species are integral to their respective ecosystems, and contribute greatly to the biodiversity of their region. Another seemingly unlikely example of a keystone species is the beaver of North America. Countless organisms rely on the on the habitat of the beaver pond. From life as small as bacteria to as large as deer, fish and birds, the habitat that the beaver provides in its pond is crucial to the network of species in its ecosystem. Beavers also directly help humans by reducing flood and erosion risk.
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