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Science. 2001 Apr 6;292(5514):101-4.

Delayed compensation for missing keystone species by colonization.

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1
Department of Biology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131 USA. morgan.ernest@ttu.edu

Abstract

Because individual species can play key roles, the loss of species through extinction or their gain through colonization can cause major changes in ecosystems. For almost 20 years after kangaroo rats were experimentally removed from a Chihuahuan desert ecosystem in the United States, other rodent species were unable to compensate and use the available resources. This changed abruptly in 1995, when an alien species of pocket mouse colonized the ecosystem, used most of the available resources, and compensated almost completely for the missing kangaroo rats. These results demonstrate the importance of individual species and of colonization and extinction events in the structure and dynamics of ecosystems.

PMID:
11292873
DOI:
10.1126/science.292.5514.101
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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