|Some animal species are considered indicator species. These are animals that can give us insight into how the ecosystem is doing overall, depending on how well they’re doing themselves. They can indicate changes in the environment and whether or not it’s a healthy one.1
Indicator species can also give us insight into their ecosystem simply by being present or not present within it.2 Indicator species can be plants, like mosses, or animals like river otters.1&2
River otters give us insight into how healthy a freshwater ecosystem is. If there is any problem, river otters are usually the first to be affected because they’re at the top of the food chain. For example, if there’s mercury pollution in an environment they’ll be the first to show signs of poisoning from it.2
Another indicator species are wood storks. They indicate whether or not everglade ecosystems are healthy. If they’re not present in these environments, it signals that something is wrong with the environment and it can’t sustain these birds.2
You know what other animal is an indicator species? Bears!
The health of bears gives us insight into the health of other species. Learn more about the different species of bear (there are eight!), where they can be found in the world, and hibernation.