Facilitators of facilitators

Few ecologists have studied the ways in which species make life easier for their neighbours.

“People weren’t really looking at the big picture of why a group of species is found together. Often it’s because of the positive effect of some other species,” says Andrew Altieri, a marine biologist at Northeastern University.

A “foundation” species can underpin an entire ecosystem by creating a suitable habitat for all the other species that live there.

“There are not just facilitators and species that get facilitated. There are facilitators of facilitators.” Each link in the chain may be essential to the survival of the whole system.

from New Scientist, When co-operation is the key to survival