Trophic Cascades and Keystone Species

If you are interested in nature or wildlife, then there is a pretty good chance that you have heard of trophic cascades or keystone species before. Have you ever been curious about where these terms originated? If so, you’re in luck! BioInteractive, an organization that provides free science education resources, released a short film that walks viewers through the fascinating history of learning about and understanding these important drivers of ecosystem health and biodiversity.

The film is only about twenty minutes long and “tells the story of the ecologists who first documented the role of keystone species in ecosystem regulation.” Ecologist Robert Paine was curious about the impacts that removing starfish from tidal pools would have on populations of other species in the ecosystem, while ecologist James Estes was interested in the effects that the presence or absence of sea otters were having on kelp forests.

Watch the video now to find out what they learned!

As you watch the film, think about Nevada’s wildlife. Which of our wild neighbors do you think are keystone species and why?

Denise Peterson

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