Whales keep ecosystems running – it’s a keystone species
Zimmer and Ferrer 07 (Richard and Ryan, professors of Biology at UCLA, “Neuroecology, Chemical Defense, and the Keystone Species Concept”, The Biological Bulletin, Dec. 2007, http://www.biolbull.org/content/213/3/208.full)
Consumption of STX-laden zooplankton or their incapacitated predators can have dramatic effects on top pelagic predators. Vertebrates such as fish (Adams et al., 1968; White, 1980, 1981), seabirds (Nisbet, 1983; Shumway et al., 2003), and marine mammals (Geraci et al., 1989; Reyero et al., 1999; Doucette et al., 2006) are much more sensitive to STX and its derivatives than are invertebrate grazers. Consequently, after dinoflagellate blooms, large-scale vertebrate mortality arises from ingestion of STX-laden planktonic organisms. Massive die-offs of top pelagic predators such as right whales (Doucette et al., 2006), monk seals (Reyero et al., 1999), and several species of fish (White, 1980, 1981) can lead to dramatic cascading effects throughout entire planktonic communities (Carpenter et al., 1985; Myers and Worm, 2003; Bruno and O'Connor, 2005).