Comparing yourself to elephants, earthworms or whales seems strange. However, it’s not as weird as you might think because we’re all ecosystem engineers. Elephants alter the landscapes in which they live; earthworms modify the soil they dig; whales help distribute nutrients to the ocean. We humans also change our environment.
Add beavers, birds, rabbits, wolves, trees and corals to the mix. We are all part of a wide range of ecosystem engineers, organisms that maintain and refine their habitats. And whether it’s a shelter or a source of food, we all benefit from the changes that ecosystem engineers bring to their environment.
what is an ecosystem?
An ecosystem can be as small as a raindrop or as large as a lake or a forest. It is defined as the myriad of organisms that exist and interact in the same area, along with their physical environment.
what is an example of an ecosystem engineer?
Elephants are an excellent example of ecosystem engineers.
Elephants don’t stay in one place too long. They travel through savannahs and forests, chopping down trees and brush as they go. It may sound destructive, but it is not. Thinning trees allows sunlight to reach the forest floor, which encourages new growth. Small animals that cannot reach the treetops benefit from the fruits and leaves that remain on the ground in the elephant’s wake.