Regenerating the Prairie with a Keystone Species

Bison are considered a keystone species due to their significant and unique roles in shaping and maintaining the grassland ecosystems of North America. Some characteristics of a keystone species include: 
  • High Impact: Keystone species exert a strong influence on the structure and dynamics of their ecosystems. Their presence or absence can lead to cascading effects throughout the food web and ecosystem processes. 
100% grass-fed buffalo on the playa
  • Unique Role: Keystone species often perform critical ecological functions that are not easily replaced by other species. These functions may include predation, habitat modification, seed dispersal, or nutrient cycling. 
Sharp-tailed grouse on the prairie
  • Biodiversity: Keystone species support high levels of biodiversity by creating and maintaining habitat complexity and providing resources for other species. 
deer looking over a hill on the prairie
  • Stability: Keystone species contribute to the stability and resilience of ecosystems by buffering against environmental fluctuations and preventing the dominance of any single species. 
100% grass-fed buffalo herd grazing on the prairie
Other examples of keystone species include predators like wolves, who aid in keeping riparian zones intact, and engineers like beavers, whose dam-building activities create and maintain wetland habitats. 
Geese in front of a beaver dam
Bison are, of course, another keystone species whose grazing behavior shapes the structure and composition of grassland vegetation, promoting the growth of certain plant species while suppressing others. 
100% grass-fed buffalo silhouetted by a sunset
The by-product of these actions is the production of a healthy, sustainable red meat alternative that will not only nourish your body, but your spirit. 


  • Posted on by Lonnie King

    Aloha All:

    Beautiful photos with beautifully descriptive commentary!

    Keep ip the Splendid Work; I am so pleased to see the return of the Tatanka Nation especially with the help of their two legged brethren.

  • Posted on by Don Williams
    I am a retired biology professor with an earned Ed. D. in biology and particularly environmental science. Over my 40+ years of teaching H. S.-University students I have relied on a concept I found in a teacher’s journal a concept known as “The Ecological Triangle.” The three corners include “abiotic factors,” abiotic conditions,” “biotic factors,” all of which need to be in balance to maintain a healthy and sustainable ecosystem. Keystone species are a vital component of the biotic corner as can be imagined. Bison, with their smaller, sharper hooves losen and aerate the prairie soil facilitating better growth of prairie plants and water infiltration rather than compacting such as seen occurring when prairie land is subjected to large scale domestic cattle grazing. Open roaming also allows for the distribution of nutrient recycling.

    Wild Idea’s sustainable practices are excellent examples of how Bison fit the Ecological Triangle model as a Keystone species. Bravo for all you do!

  • Posted on by Tom
    Thanks for passing this very interesting information along.

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