Difference Between Keystone Species and Umbrella Species

A community is an assemblage of species living close enough together for potential interaction which differ in their species richness, species evenness, and relative abundance of different species. In an ecosystem, there are various species-specific niches either isolated or overlapped. The two important species in the ecosystem are:

  1. keystone species
  2. umbrella species

Keystone species

  • Keystone species is a species that plays a unique and crucial role in the way of ecosystem functions.
  • Highly influence the food webs.
  • Loss results in a range of dramatic cascading effects that alters trophic dynamics
  • Keystonespsis not often migratory.
  • They influence their own environment only
  • It does not need large sized habitat
  • They have a Domino effect on the ecosystem. (a cumulative effect produced when one event initiates a succession of similar events)
  • The status of keystone species helps to determine the types, status, and numbers of various other species in the community
  • It may also act as the indicator species.
  • Example- Alligator, bees, wolves, elephants, tigers etc.

Umbrella species

  • Umbrella species are the species whose conservation protects the other many species in the ecosystem
  • Do not pose a huge influence on food webs
  • Most umbrella species are migratory.
  • Hence they can influence different habitats.
  • It needs large habitats
  • These species are selected for making conservation-related decisions.
  • No international criteria for selecting animals to serve as umbrella species
  • generally they tend to be large mammals.
  • Used while making Protected areas, as they are taken as a reference animal, the PA must be sufficient for that species.
  • Example- Grizzlebear, vulture, tiger, elephant, butterfly, panda etc


Hi, Im chetana khadka from Bardiya. Having always been in close proximity to Nature I have so much enthusiasm to learn and explore my career in Forestry. As a Forestry undergraduate, I realized that even a tiny creature in nature has immense importance in the ecosystem. Really everything is connected to everything and there's nothing like waste in nature. So value yourself, you are also a immense part of nature and leave your conservation footprint before you vanish in it.

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