WHY SAVE ONLY TIGERS?
Why save only Tigers?! What about Frogs, Fishes, Monkeys and other animals?
Tigers are not only majestic animals but also on the top of the food chain in an ecosystem. They determine the population of all the other species below them in the food chain. Suppose, Tigers are removed from the ecosystem, the next big predator would be Alligator or Leopard or Vulture and they won’t be able to do all those things that Tigers do. They won’t eat what tigers eat and hence some species might overpopulate the region at the cost of other species. For instance, if Tigers become extinct, the deer shall have one less predator species to eat them and too many deer might overgraze and cause soil erosion and destroy the local vegetation, local climate and also consequently ant’s and termite’s habitat.
Ants and Termites are very important part of the ecosystem as they feed on all the dead material and turn it into manure. They consume and decompose. Their disappearance will mean starvation of anteaters and cause their extinction (except if they can adapt to the sudden dietary change imposed upon them) and thus shall follow the domino effect of extinction, which we are experiencing at this very moment.
Hence, save Tiger!
Species such as Tigers are called Keystone species. (What’s Keystone?) Keystones are such stones in an arc which feels the least pressure; however the arc still collapses without it. Other such Keystone species are Sharks, Sea stars, Brown Bears, African Elephants, Humming birds, Tiger, etc. Keystone species are not permanent, they change with time.
I learnt about this concept from one of the most comprehensive and principle based book called Ecology&Environment by K.Siddhartha. One of my favorite Environmental Studies book (you can take my word because I read a lot about this subject). If you are passionate about Environment or what to educate yourself about it, it’s a must read. (of course for concept building, not for advanced studies)
Also, if you want to read a little extra about it right now, here is the link http://nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/keystone-species/
CONTEST ALERT! If you describe in the comment section about the effects of the extinction of any of the Keystone Species in your area in 200- 250 words. You can win an exciting gift (maybe of your choice), irrespective of where you live! And of course Plagiarism is strictly discouraged. Only original thoughts shall be considered. The contest lasts till the end of this month 🙂
If you are interested in knowing more about Keystone Species, don’t hesitate to post your requests, questions, etc on the comment section below. Ciao
14 Replies to “Noteworthy Trivialities #2”
Great insight on tiger as a keystone species. Human are also keystone species, however with our (should I include myself?) ignorance and large brain have destroyed our planet.
This keystone specie is relevant because of several incidents that occurred just a few days ago. One of my neighbour call out to me one early morning. There is something moving in this bag. It was hanging on the wall and my mother-in-law handed it to me. I’m scared, can you check what’s in it. I was nonchalant, but careful not knowing what was in the bag.
When is pocked into the bag with a small stick, I noticed a small snake. My neighbour screamed and blamed her mother-in-law for giving her the bag. (Now, that’s what you call in India a mother-in-law relationship with her daughter-in-law.)
I turned the bag upside-down, but the snake wouldn’t come out. Then my neighbour took a stick and started beating the bag. I told her to stop so I could catch the snake and throw it into the forest.
Now, there needs to be some awareness built into the importance of snakes and their keystone status. For those who are ignorant, they only think of the snake’s poison and their superstitions. They don’t know that snakes eat small rodents and keep their population down. Their populations are also regulated by nature. No all snake eggs survive and only few grow up to adulthood. When they are small, snakes are prey to birds and other small animals.
I felt sad I could couldn’t save the snake. Later, I tried to convince my neighbour that snakes are necessary in the balance of nature. I even made them watch ‘Snakes in India’ on Animal Planet. At the very least, I hope I made an impact on their two kids who were there and pray that they don’t kill any snakes or animals in the future.
What is a Keystone species?
A Species whose extinction or eradication by external stimuli will distort and/or disturb the balance of the surrounding ecosystem, or at least it should feel like so. Reading the article reminded me of a cartoon tv show of Tarzan where the professor with Jane was trying to get rid of the mosquitoes and ended up disturbing the balance of the surrounding by killing them. A similar example is my balcony in the house where there were many spiders and their knitted cobwebs the first reaction of a cleanness buff was to clean up all the webs and make all the spiders run away. The resultant being a dozen of evening where I was terrified by the small mosquitoes will reign terror in my living room during evening TV hours. After the 3 day period I asked my neighboring flat aunt how does she deal with mosquitoes during evening. To my surprise the answer was that she was not facing the problem. The environment in her flat had the spider cobwebs in their balcony preventing them from mosquitoes. To my relief the spiders knitted their webs again in a couple of weeks and the balance was regained.
To my utter surprise that nature can rebuild again on what is required. Species are driven to extension when they are driven out of balance by natural stimuli example absence of food source or damage to environment(loss of hunting ground) or external stimuli like poisoning. In true sense the loss of a keystone species would be most probably end in other species taking its place in the food structure.
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Now this is what I was looking for! You wrote about your immediate environment and I absolutely loved it :* keep noticing such changes around you…
Hey Aditi I want to write here about keystone species of Afghanistan . As one third part of Afghanistan are mountains . So most of the keystone species of Afghanistan habitits in mountains only . Like Marco Polo Sheep , Snow Leopard , Ibex , Paghman Salamandar and many more . Here I want to talk about Snow Leopard , From an expert at navigating Central Asia’s high mountains, the iconic snow leopard is recognizable by its long tail and almost-white coat, spotted with large black rosettes.
There are as few as 4000 snow leopards in the wild, and their numbers are declining due to habitat loss, poaching and the impact of climate change. Snow leopard are highly adopted to their homes in cold high mountains . This remarkable species plays a key role as both top predator and an indicator of the health of its high-altitude habitat. If snow leopards thrive so will countless other species, as well as the millions of people whose livelihoods depend on the rivers flowing down from Central Asia’s mountains.
Snow leopards are solitary and elusive creatures that usually hunt at dawn and dusk. They’re stealthy predators, able to kill prey up to three times their own weight.
Snow leopards’ favoured prey are herbivores, such as blue sheep, Argali sheep and ibex. But in many areas, snow leopards also prey on livestock, brining them into conflict with herders.
Indeed, snow leopard habitat provides important resources for local communities – from food and medicine to grazing for livestock, and wood for shelter, heat and fuel. As well as water sources for millions of people downstream. Snow leopard having prey wild sheeps , domestic sheeps , domestic goats , wooling hares,marmots and birds and many more . So what would happen if the Snow Leopard became extinct?
Sheep, hare, marmot and goats are all herbivores. They eat plants. Marmots for example eat grass, berries, lichen and moss, roots and flowers.
So can you imagine what would happen if
the Snow Leopard was taken out of the food chain?
We guess that the herbivore population would not get eaten by the Snow Leopard.
Then the population of marmots, hares, sheep and goats would grow and grow.
They would eat a lot of plants and vegetation.
There would be ‘over grazing’
There would be very little grass and plants left.
Then the herbivores; the marmots, hares, sheep and goats
wouldn’t have enough food to eat.
If there were a lot less flowers, plants and grass,
the butterflies and other insects that pollinate the meadows would disappear also and also if snow leopards go extinct, then the rabbits or moles or whatever it eats has no predators. The population of rabbits increases, and then rabbit food starts to become scarce. The excess rabbit population may be able to better support a new type of predators, like wolves moving into the area, which would eventually throw off the ecosystem balance in another way. So we have to call on Central Asians governments to protect these big beautiful white Cats . I hope Aditi I have chance to win the context so I will be waiting for result.
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The keystone species of Afghanistan! That just opened floodgates in my mind. Very intriguing. Thank you for participating 😀
Firstly i want to congratulate you for such an amazing article you came up with and on a very interesting topic.
Well coming to my reply on this topic,I was always fascinated to watch elephants and to know about the story behind them after a brief knowledge gathered form various sources ,I’am sharing my thoughts about this wonderful species.
Elephants are big and are really big.Elephants have good memories they can remember their relatives for a long time.They care for their families and appear to show sadness when loved ones die.Scientists consider elephants to be keystone species.This means they have a important role in maintaining the biodiversity the wide variety of plant and animal species of ecosystems.one way elephants help their ecosystem is by eating.As elephants in the forest eat,they create gaps in the vegetation.These gaps allow new plants to grow and create pathways for other animals.
For example Elephants eat the sprouts of trees and shrubs.These keeps the plants from growing out of control and blocking sunlight.If sunlight did not reach the grasses,they would die.During the dry season, elephants use their tusks to
dig water holes that other animals can use.These water holes may be the only sources of water in the area,Also elephants spread the seeds from these trees through their dung. The dung fertilisers the seeds as they grow into new plants. Many of these trees would disappear without the help of elephants.
Well i’am happy for being a part of this contest and shared my knowledge through this reply and also wishing all other contestants who participated in this contest good luck.
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That was so original Neerav 🙂 Thank you for your contribution. I really enjoyed reading your write up!
Amazin’ aditi..i wanna really congratualte u for such article.great work wish i could write something abt keystones.but inshAllah next time.
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okie dokie 🙂
Try to observe the natural environment around you, the grass, the insects who live there, the trees, the birds who nest there, etc etc
I loved the article. Won’t be able to write a full fledged article as I’m nursing an injury right now, but I agree with the spirit of your words. It’s true, all of it.
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I’m glad you liked it Manaved. Your thoughts would mean a lot, coz you are an environmental lover yourself. But please get well soon 😀
Till then, keep noticing and observing the little environmental changes around you, in your building compound, or that tree which you can see from your window and discover real beauty :*
The king of rain forest,
Not enough space to nest😣😥
The king cobra( referred as king in this comment) the mightiest one of all snakes.
Here are certain things which makes king a special snake
1. The longest venomous snake
2. Has the maximum amount of venom
3. Cannibalistic snake
4. Only snake on earth who make nest to lay eggs
5. It is the National Reptile of India
Following problem is related to destruction of kings habitat in western ghats
King is one of those very few snakes who are referred as a key stone species, and it makes extremely important for all of us to understand importance of this snake.
Today Indian government is passing various projects in western ghats which is in itself an Eco Hotspot and makes it extremely important habitat( especially for herp lovers)
With passing of this project lot of western ghats are getting affected and is leading to destruction of kings habitat.
Of course with this we are talking about loosing kings from this habitat which is on itself disastrous but can also lead to following problems
1. Being a cannibalistic snake it eats only other snakes which means with its extinction we are talking about sudden increase in snake population within that region
2. With increase in no. Of snakes rodent like rat will be killed at much higher number and can lead to disturbance of food chain, as it will affect both the animals which eat rats( eg hawks, eagle etc) and species which are eaten by rats.
3. Increase of snake population can be disastrous for Indian Citizens because
¹ India is known to be snake bite capital of the world because every year about 1 million people get bitten by snakes out of which 50,000 people die. With increase in population of snake can lead to more chances of snake – human conflict and can increase number of bites
² some people are also saying that now a lot more snakes have started living in cities because of rapid destruction of their habitat which also increase chances of snake bite
( no prove of this )
4. All the rivers found in South India
are rain fed so basically destruction of rain forest can lead to destruction of these rivers and whole of South India might face water scarcity and will lead to death of lot of human beings
So if we need to survive we shall understand needs of other animals as well and also start caring about our ecosystems
Other threats to this species
1. Chinese medicine😡😠
2. People use their skin to make various expensive leather goods
( I wish those people who buy them should make such goods from their skin)
3. Kings are also killed for their meat as they are pretty long snakes(16 ft) and can weight up to 12 kg
There are various grammatical mistakes in the comment I was in bit hurry kindly ignore them