Some species in natural communities seem to be have disproportionately significant effects on populations of co-occurring species. Improved knowledge of “important” species is seen by many ecologists as vital to understanding natural selection within communities. Protection of such species may be regarded as essential to the conservation of ecosystems. However, the identification and characterization of “important” species may be criticized by ecologists who argue that natural ecosystems will be over-simplified. If large tracts of habitat must be set aside as reserves for protection of “important” species, harvesting interests and resource managers may object to the placement of valued resources beyond the reach of human utilization.
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