Keystone Species

The term KEYSTONE was introduced to the fields of ecology and conservation biology in 1969 by Robert T. Paine, a professor of zoology at the University of Washington. A keystone denotes one stone at the top center of an arch or vault that provides critical structural support. Due to the keystone's strategic location, if removed, the entire arch will collapse to the ground. This in essence explains the role of keystone plant and animal species—they are the central critical piece holding other associated species together.

Similarly, in the natural world there are keystone resources (natural resources like food, water, mineral deposits, shelter, mineral deposits, among others) on which a variety of species depend. When a keystone resource is threatened, lost or become unavailable, it needs to ...

  • Loading...
locked icon

Sign in to access this content

Get a 30 day FREE TRIAL

  • Watch videos from a variety of sources bringing classroom topics to life
  • Read modern, diverse business cases
  • Explore hundreds of books and reference titles