Before getting to the heart of the matter, we must define what we mean by ecosystem. An ecosystem is a geographic area where organisms, weather, and landscape combine to form an interlocking system. Each component has a role to play. An ecosystem could be our entire planet or a pond hidden deep in the woods. If part of the ecosystem disappears, the whole network is more or less affected.
Each ecosystem is unique. If one of its elements disappears, the ecosystem will change. All of the animals on our list are vital to their ecosystems. Some of them find it difficult to cope with the influence of man on the environment. Here are 10 animals you didn’t know were vital to an ecosystem.
Related: 10 Animals Who Discovered Their Own Life Hacks
Before coming to the importance of ants in an ecosystem, here is a fact that will rock you. According to Guinness World Records, in 2000 scientists discovered a colony of ants that stretched from northern Italy to southern France to the Atlantic coast of Spain! It was a single Argentine ant supercolony that spanned 5,954 kilometers (3,700 miles); the ants on the Spanish side could recognize and accept their Italian friends. So if you find an ant nest in your backyard, you may be looking for just one entryway into a megastructure.
All of these tunnel ants aerate the soil and recycle nutrients. This reduces the need for fertilizer. In fact, experts say that in a dry region, wheat harvests are up to 36% higher due to the work of ants. Go ahead, little guys!
9 Lice or fleas
Why fleas are so hard to kill
If you see your favorite pooch scratching, you might suspect he’s got a colony of fleas. Naturally, for your peace of mind and the health of your pup, you’ll want to get rid of them ASAP. And you should, but chips make a great snack for frogs, snakes, spiders, ants, and other animals. They are an important part of the food chain.
These bloodsucking horrors are vectors of disease. While I wouldn’t say the Black Death was a good thing, infectious diseases spread by fleas can kill weaker animals and boost the gene pool.
Wombats look like real ewoks
Australians should be happy to have wombats around. This cuddly marsupial loves to dig holes. This action breaks up hard soils and recycles organic matter. The furrows they dig make perfect seedbeds. Really, a wombat is like a tractor.
There are three species of wombats in their native Australia. They can reach 1.3 meters (4.25 feet) in length and weigh 36 kilograms (79 pounds). Some farmers consider them pests because they will snatch food and knock down fences. Yet they do more good than harm. In general, the soil in Australia is poor, there are few nutrients and the land is not very productive. An Australian farmer needs all the help he can get.
As a completely independent fact, a group of wombats is called a wisdom of wombats. You’re welcome.
Why wasps are as wonderful as bees | BBC Ideas
People like bees, but you don’t find many who like wasps. If people think about it, they see them as a potentially painful nuisance at a picnic. But wasps perform many of the same tasks as bees. They are pollinators that help spread plants and feed on insects such as green flies and caterpillars.
Having a few wasps around a gardener can be a big help. Many pests would nibble on roses and food crops if there were no wasps. Perhaps the fact that they don’t produce honey reminds us less of them than of their cousins the bees.
6 the Sharks
Sharks 101 | National geographic
Sharks are at the top of the food chain. It’s no exaggeration to say that the oceans would be practically dead without them. As apex predators, sharks feed on the fish immediately below them on the chain. The sharks’ prey feeds on the next lowest link and so on down to the level of the plankton.
If the sharks did not reduce the number of second level predators, the next levels would quickly be eaten up and disappear. With nothing left to feed on, life in the oceans would quickly die out.
The Australian Institute of Marine Science tells us that shark attacks kill around ten people every year. This compares to about 150 who are killed by falling coconuts. Clearly, we should be more afraid of coconuts than sharks.
Monk Vulture, greedy of corpses | river fox
The acid in a vulture’s stomach is extremely corrosive. This allows them to digest carrion that would otherwise pose a threat.
Anthrax is a powerful example. Anthrax is a serious infectious disease caused by Bacillus anthracis. It happens naturally in the soil, and from the soil it passes into the animals. It can then infect people who come into contact with the animal or who eat it. A vulture has no problem with an animal infected with anthrax. Due to the acid in his stomach, he can gorge on an infected carcass without suffering. The same is true if the animal had rabies or was full of toxins. A vulture is an effective environmental cleaner.
But there’s one compound it can’t process: diclofenac. It is an anti-inflammatory drug given to cattle and pigs. If someone had designed something to kill vultures, they wouldn’t have found anything more effective. Even small doses are toxic to scavengers. It causes kidney failure and rapid death. It was widely used in Asia in the 1990s and early 2000s and nearly wiped out the Asian vultures.
How two rats become 15,000 in one year | National geographic
It is generally said that you are never more than 2 meters (about 6 feet) from a rat. I don’t know who came up with this figure, but it’s quite fanciful. That would suggest there are a lot of rats around; they are quite common but not that common.
Rats love to breed. A female rat has 6 hours of receptivity 15 times a year. During these 6 hours, a female can mate up to 500 times. It must be quite tiring, but it makes her a prolific breeder of small rats.
When not otherwise busy, rats do an excellent job of tidying up our cities. Rats are mostly vegetarian in nature, but urban rats will eat garbage and scraps of just about anything. They are useful cleaners. They are also preyed upon by hawks, owls, falcons, snakes and cats. They are therefore an important part of the food chain.
Speaking of cats, despite their reputation for being dirty, a rat is a clean animal. In fact, a rat will spend more time grooming than your cat.
The most rattlesnakes I’ve ever seen 😱
The rattlesnake has a bad reputation. It might be the ominous clicking noise it makes, but that’s just a warning, not an indication it’s about to strike. In the United States, 7,000 to 8,000 people are bitten by a snake each year, and of these, five will die. A rattlesnake will rarely bite, and if it does, the bite is rarely fatal if treated quickly. Their typical meal will be mice, rats, squirrels, or small birds, so like any predator, they play an important role in population control.
But they also play another important role in maintaining a healthy ecosystem. Rattlesnakes, like other snakes, do not chew. If a rattlesnake has just eaten a rodent for lunch, it will swallow it whole and find a place to rest and digest. Any seeds the unfortunate rodent has eaten will pass through the snake’s system undamaged and then be excreted at a different location.
Rattlesnakes are vulnerable; they should be left alone. There are ways to discourage rattlesnakes from taking up residence on your property. Most pest control companies will take care of this and do no harm. However, in some areas “rattlesnake roundups” still occur. Generally, hunters are encouraged to collect as many snakes as they can in a year and gather together to celebrate their success and eat their catch.
Such occurrences do more harm than just killing a few snakes. Hunters sometimes force snakes out of turtle burrows by spraying gasoline into the holes. Over 350 different species use turtle burrows for shelter and food; spraying the holes with gasoline kills them too.
Beaver Lodge Construction Squad | Attenborough | BBC Earth
Beavers are a keystone species. This means they don’t just contribute to an ecosystem; they are actively creating one. The other creatures on this list are part of an ecosystem; the beaver is its creator and master. In the UK, beavers disappeared around 400 years ago. They are now being reintroduced as authorities realize how important they are in flood control.
When a beaver builds a dam, it creates an area of wetland behind it. It becomes a new habitat for other animals and plants. A beaver dam will reduce soil erosion and silt builds up behind it. This silt acts as a filter that removes pollutants from the water.
But these animals do more. The beavers clear the trees. This opens up spaces in the woods that allow other plants to thrive. Beavers are herbivores, eating aquatic plants, bark, and leaves; with little damage to the environment.
Termite World | Life in the undergrowth | BBC
A termite colony can contain 60,000 to 1 million members and there are 3,000 different species of termites on the planet. Termites, as you may have experienced, love wood. The cellulose they consume is excreted and makes an excellent sticky binder in the soil that helps prevent erosion. During this time, by digging, they aerate the soil and recycle nutrients. They play an essential role in decomposition.
Termites are also an essential food source for a wide range of predators. We eat them too; some 43 species can end up in a pot to make a protein-rich meal for humans. However, you don’t want them moving around in your support beams.
fact verified by Rachel Jones