Today we will be talking about the importance of a keystone species in an environment. What is a keystone species? Well, A keystone species is an organism that is so valuable to its habitat, that if it were to suddenly disappear or go extinct, then the environment around it would change drastically for the worst.
A grizzly bear is a keystone species in the forests of Alaska, Colorado, and other states. These bears are important to their habitat, because they help keep down the number of herbivores that are present in their environment. If the bears were not present, the elk and moose population would flourish. That doesn’t seem like much of a problem, does it? Well, it is. If their was an increase in elk population, then they would begin to strip the land of it greenery and grass. This can drastically alter the land and it would become poor in nutrients. Grizzly bears are essential for keeping the balance in their place of residence.
Bears are also important because they deposit essential nutrients back into the soil. The berries that they love to forage on during the fall months are actually a benefit for the land. After the bears have filled up on all of those delicious berries, they will deposit their droppings somewhere in the woods. Once it decomposes, it releases important nutrients such as Nitrogen, sulfur, and carbon back into the soil. These chemicals help to replenish the ground so that it is a healthier place for plants to grow.
So, if bears suddenly disappeared things would go drastically wrong. First, the elk would strip the land of all of its vegetation, and then the land would not be able to produce enough nutrients to grow more healthy plants to feed the elk. Do you see now how important keystone species are to the environment?