Keystone species


Species whose influence on ecosystem function and diversity are disproportionate to their numerical abundance. Although all species interact, the interactions of some species are more profound and far-reaching than others, such that their elimination from an ecosystem often triggers cascades of direct and indirect changes on more than a single trophic level, leading eventually to losses of habitats and extirpation of other species in the food web.

Soule & Noss 1998 1 as referenced in United Nations (UN) 2013 2

Species that has a disproportionate effect on its environment relative to its biomass and whose removal initiates significant changes in ecosystem structure and loss of biodiversity.

International Finance Corporation (IFC) 2012 3

References & Websites