Keystone Species

Keystone Species

Wild salmon are a keystone species. Wild salmon embody the transfer of rich marine nutrients (nitrogen, sulfur, carbon and phosphorus) from the ocean to the estuaries, wetlands and forests through which flow wild salmon-bearing river systems. These ecosystems are dependent on wild salmon for nourishment.

The annual migration of wild salmon from the Pacific Ocean to their river spawning grounds is a spectacular event. Many animals including bears, eagles, ospreys, herons, seals, sea otters, sea lions and wolves depend on wild salmon as a food source.

Thousands of bald eagles will arrive at rivers where there are large wild salmon runs. Wolves will fish for wild salmon even when deer are plenty because wild salmon are rich in fat and easier prey. Bears will “stake out” their own fishing areas at salmon-bearing rivers and waterways. Grizzly bears can gain 400lbs before winter hibernation.


Keystone Species: Grizzly bear fishing for wild salmon at a waterfall