Enter the battlefields of Africa, arenas bathed in a history of savagery and blood, where big cats and big crocs have reigned supreme for centuries. Here in the open plains, muddy swamps, and deep rivers, these super predators don't simply survive in hostile and unforgiving conditions, they thrive because of them. See how these four-legged assassins adapt to their surroundings and use the terrain to unlock new hunting techniques, seek out new prey, and amplify their age-old skills by using the lay of the land.
Runtime: 60 minutes
Africa's Predator Zones - Keystone species - Netflix
A keystone species is a species that has a disproportionately large effect on its environment relative to its abundance. Such species are described as playing a critical role in maintaining the structure of an ecological community, affecting many other organisms in an ecosystem and helping to determine the types and numbers of various other species in the community. A keystone species is a plant or animal that plays a unique and crucial role in the way an ecosystem functions. Without keystone species, the ecosystem would be dramatically different or cease to exist altogether. Some keystone species, such as the wolf, are also apex predators. The role that a keystone species plays in its ecosystem is analogous to the role of a keystone in an arch. While the keystone is under the least pressure of any of the stones in an arch, the arch still collapses without it. Similarly, an ecosystem may experience a dramatic shift if a keystone species is removed, even though that species was a small part of the ecosystem by measures of biomass or productivity. It became a popular concept in conservation biology, alongside flagship and umbrella species. Although the concept is valued as a descriptor for particularly strong inter-species interactions, and it has allowed easier communication between ecologists and conservation policy-makers, it has been criticized for oversimplifying complex ecological systems.
Africa's Predator Zones - Limitations - Netflix
Although the concept of the keystone species has a value in describing particularly strong inter-species interactions, and for allowing easier communication between ecologists and conservation policy-makers, it has been criticized by L. S. Mills and colleagues for oversimplifying complex ecological systems. The term has been applied widely in different ecosystems and to predators, prey, and plants (primary producers), inevitably with differing ecological meanings. For instance, removing a predator may allow other animals to increase to the point where they wipe out other species; removing a prey species may cause predator populations to crash, or may allow predators to drive other prey species to extinction; and removing a plant species may result in the loss of animals that depend on it, like pollinators and seed dispersers. Beavers too have been called keystone, not for eating other species but for modifying the environment in ways that affected other species. The term has thus been given quite different meanings in different cases. In Mills's view, Paine's work showed that a few species could sometimes have extremely strong interactions within a particular ecosystem, but that does not automatically imply that other ecosystems have a similar structure.
Africa's Predator Zones - References - Netflix