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keystone speciesSchlüsselarten (ger.)

  • In general a keystone-species can be defined as a species whose organisms exert great influence on the ecosystem, sometimes to a greater extent than could be assumed according to its occurrence. (HWB)

    Within both these fairly or very complex systems the species composition and physical appearance were greatly modified by the activities of a single native species high in the food web. These individual populations are the keystone of the community’s structure, and the integrity of the community and its unaltered persistence through time, that is, stability, are determined by their activities and abundances. They may be unimportant as energy transformers.The two keystone species discussed above have little in common. Pisaster is abundant and is somewhat of a trophic generalist; Charonia is rare and a food specialist.

    Paine, R.T. (1969). A note on trophic complexity and community stability. Amer. Nat. 103, 91-93: 92.