What can ecosystems teach us (part 2)?


This is the second and final part reflecting on what ecosystems can teach us.

In the first part I reflected on how ecosystems develop in their own unique way over a period of time, starting with pioneer species (read more).

I will use another part of ecosystems to help us with our own reflections.


Keystone Species

These have been made famous (in certain circles anyway!) with the story of the return of the wolves to Yellowstone and how this one change caused the ecosystem to change dramatically (read more).

There are other examples such as the sea otter in nearshore ecosystems (read more).

A keystone species appears to have an almost magical effect on the ecosystem.

It has these characteristics:

  • it has low functional redundancy (in other words, no other species would fill its ecological niche)
  • it defines an entire ecosystem
  • its removal would dramatically transform the ecosystem, including causing it to cease to exist


So what can we learn from keystone species?

We could ask ourselves the question:

What is the keystone species in ourselves that we could introduce or nurture (we are an ecosystem after all) that would transform us in a positive way?

A species in this case could be an idea, a behaviour, a belief or an ability.

We often think about what we should stop doing or believing. We are encouraged by society to focus on our lack or our shortcomings. There is an implicit belief that we are not enough as we are.

Imagine there is a species of thought or an ability or characteristic within you already that is ready and waiting to be released and would help you thrive.

Perhaps you have overlooked this because it comes so naturally that you believe it is nothing special. 'Surely everyone can do this' you say. You might be surprised!

Or perhaps you have not had many opportunities to express this side of you. What can you do which would give you opportunity to utilise this aspect of your nature?


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