This article was originally published on Cats&Birds.
“The services birds provide to our environment and to people are hugely significant. From dispersing seeds and predating insects, to cycling nutrients and air purification, birds play environmental roles as predators, pollinators, scavengers, seed dispersers, seed predators, and ecosystem engineers. Scientists group the services into four categories: supporting, regulating, provisioning and cultural.
Examples of supporting services include nutrient cycling and the formation of soil. This category is the foundation without which other ecosystem services could not be produced. Because they often span many different habitats, birds are well-suited to moving nutrients from one place to another. One study on the islands in the Gulf of California looked at the differences in soil quality between islands with and without seabirds (and therefore their guano): it showed that islands with seabirds had plants that grew both taller and faster than those on islands without birds.
This example also illustrates the intricate ways habitats are connected and can impact each other. The productivity of the ocean regulates the number of fish it can support, which impacts the number of birds that feed on the fish, which impacts how many birds will roost on the island and leave guano deposits, which affects the productivity of the ocean…”
Read on at: Cats&Birds.
(1) “Nutrient fluxes from water to land: seabirds affect plant nutrient status on Gulf of California islands”, by Wendy B. Anderson and Gary A. Polis, Oecologia, March 1999, Volume 118, Issue 3, pp 324–332
(3) “Scatter-hoarding corvids as seed dispersers for oaks and pines: A review of a widely distributed mutualism and its utility to habitat restoration,” by Mario B. Pensedorfer, T. Scott Sillette, Walter D. Koenig, and Scott A. Morrison, The Condor 118(2):215-237, 2016
(4) “Forest bolsters bird abundance, pest control and coffee yield” by Daniel S. Karp, Chase D. Mendenhall, Randi Figueroa Sandi, Nicolas Chaumont, Paul R. Ehrlich, Elizabeth A. Hadly and Gretchen C. Daily, Ecology Letters, Volume 16, Issue 11, November 2013.