Keystone Species. Kirsten Randolph, Kelly Spady , Lindsey Kirschman , Sarah Martin ESRM 201. Initial Keystone Species Concept.
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Kirsten Randolph, Kelly Spady, Lindsey Kirschman, Sarah Martin
-Salmon play a vital role in PNW ecosystems
-They help support approximately 137 different species
-2 different amphibians
Without salmon as a keystone species, we could see a tremendous decrease in dependent creatures.
Pacific salmon are unique because immediately after reproduction they die. When salmon return from the ocean, they bring vital nutrients with them to the watersheds where they were hatched. Through their decomposing carcasses, the salmon spawning process offers a vital source of food not just for salmon and other riparian species, but for a whole host of organisms in the watershed.
From the original amounts of nutrients only 5 - 7 % is currently delivered by salmon to streams because the decrease in salmon in the environment. The streams are being stressed from a lack of nutrients, and that lack is also hurting the ability of the next generation of salmon to survive.
-In 1981, at McDonald Creek, more than 600 bald eagles gathered to feed on Kokanee salmon carcasses. When a non-native shrimp was introduced in an adjacent lake, the shrimp competed with the salmon for zooplankton - the salmon run lost.
-In 1989, only 25 eagles were found at McDonald Creek.
-The loss of salmon caused what is called an "ecosystem collapse."
A Keystone of the Pacific NorthWest
noconcept of ecological conservation/
importance of keystone species
The key is to keep the ecosystem and human in balance and keystone species are an important part of that balance. Predatory keystone species, such as wolves, play an important part in regulating the growth of subdominant prey species. Non-predatory keystone species, such as salmon, play roles in bringing important nutrients to a particular niche or community that cannot be easily gotten elsewhere.
But nearly anything in too great of a quantity will have a negative effect; and this rule does not exclude keystone species. Wolves in too large of numbers have shown to be dangerous; both to human and natural processes. Even salmon would have negative impacts if its population was out of control.
Preserve clean streams that are vital to successful salmon spawning
Protect riparian area, vegetation, and species.
Decrease the amount of water being drained from salmon designated streams
Already efforts are being made to reintroduce wolves into PNW areas.
Monitor populations and pack health
Introduce wolves into areas that are relatively human free and there is ample space and game to support the packs.
we find it hitched to everything else in the universe."
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Ripple W, Beschta R. July 2005. Linking Wolves and Plants: Aldo Leopold on Trophic Cascades. BioScience, volume 55, number7.
Wolves, trophic cascades, and rivers in the Olympic National Park, USA. "Upstream: Salmon and Society in the Pacific Northwest ." 1996 <http://books.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=4976&page=R1>. Accessed Dec 3 2008.
Los Angelas Times, "salmon is keystone species for region.“ July 2008 <seattletimes.nwsource.com>. Accessed: 3 Dec 2008.