|Forests need trees of all ages for different purposes, and a healthy forest will actually include a lot of dead trees--both those that are still standing, and those that have fallen to the forest floor. When trees die they still play an incredibly important role in the life of the forest. Insect larva work their way into fallen trees, hollowing out tunnels in the spongy wood, which helps the forest floor store moisture.|
|Trees that are dead but still standing are often referred to as "snags", or, more appropriately, as "wildlife trees". These trees are more than a convenient place for woodpeckers to take out their aggressions. When trees die and remain standing, insects such as carpenter ants move in and build nests. Woodpeckers create hollows and cavities in the wood as they search for and eat the insects. These holes are perfect nesting sites for songbirds, which consume pests that are harmful to the forest.||
Insects and fungi move into rotting tree trunks, helping to break them down into new soil. Photo by Maya Walters.
|Remove any of these organisms, and the entire ecosystem would collapse. Everything is essential--the snags, the ants, the woodpeckers, the songbirds, even the pests, for without the pests, there would be no snags.|
Fruit grows at the ends of branches. The ends of branches are hard to reach, and often too thin to support the weight of an animal such as a monkey. Some animals have come up with a solution: the prehensile tail, which works like an extra limb. Others have taken to gliding through tree tops. These are two adaptations which have evolved in response to the particular characteristics of the animals' forest habitat.
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[plants] [fungi] [mammals] [birds] [insects] [reptiles] [amphibians] [fish]
[camouflage & chemical defenses] [arboreal adaptation]
[biodiversity] [loss of biodiversity] [woodpeckers]
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