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Keystone Predators

Gary L

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I have not been on in a long time but still remember the great fishing I had when I lived in Illinois. Now in Missouri and get out on Table Rock for my fishing. Well as soon as I get my boat back. My topic today started with me watching Nature on PBS today and they talked about "Keystone" predators. It started in about 1964 or so if I remember correctly with a young man wondering if the ecosystem was controlled from the ground up as was the theory at the time. He looked for a place where he could test this and came across a tide pool that was a beautiful ecosystem with Starfish as the top predator. He took out the Starfish and they system collapsed and turn barren. He also did this by finding that Sea Otters held the ecosystem together and areas with no Otters were barren. Another test was done with Large Mouth Bass in that they sectioned off a section of a river and removed all the Bass. In time the minnows had eaten the area down to a rock barren pool with no vegetation left. This whole program was mind blowing as they even talked about the Serengeti plains and how the Wildebeest doubled in numbers and everyone thought they would need to take away good numbers of them or the area would turn barren. The scientist talked about them and had them wait and the population did not increase after four years but the vegetation including trees grew stronger.   This was interesting an I see this with the Rivers in Illinois after the work that the ISA has done and how the fish Smallmouth Bass, Walleye, Muskies and others have come back and grown. Sometimes the Keystone species is a top predator and other times in is a grass feeding animal.

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The Wolf's Tooth  by Christina Eisenberg is a great book about keystone predators and tropic cascade.  It is amazing that reintroducing wolves in the west significantly reduced water temperature in the rivers. She covers other topics including the starfish and studies on bass in the UP.


electronic and regular formats at Amazon


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I knew about the Wolfe's introduction into Yellowstone and the impact it had on the whole system including grass, trees and Elk. I did not know about the Bass in rivers or the Starfish and was amazed at the difference it made in the environment. I have always said that if hunting was stopped that we would have a over population of animals and that the environment and animals would suffer the most! I will have to look for that book.

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