Monday, March 27, 2017
“The last word in ignorance is the man who says of an animal or plant, "What good is it?",,,,,,,,,,,,,,, "If the land mechanism as a whole is good, then every part is good, whether we understand it or not",,,,,,,,,,,,. "If the biota, in the course of aeons, has built something we like but do not understand, then who but a fool would discard seemingly useless parts?",,,,,,,,,,,,"To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering.” ― Aldo Leopold, from the Journals of of famed 20th century ecologist, Aldo Leopold...............And Leopold could not have been more right as we now learn that two bird species, the Pygmy Nuthatch and the Black Capped Chickadee are true "holistic healers of Western Ponderosa Pine forests........."These year round residents scour the bark, branches and needles of ponderosa pines for insects, boosting the growth rate of the trees by one-third"..........."Not only do the birds gobble insects, they also somehow prompt the tree to change the chemistry of the terpenes the trees produce to battle insects, fungus and mistletoe"....... "So the little birds effectively boost the trees’ immune systems"............... "Furthermore, the chickadees and nuthatches also disrupt the remarkable relationship between some species of ants and aphids".......... "The ants “herd’ the aphids, protecting them from predators like ladybugs and lacewings and even taking the tiny, leaf-sucking aphids back down into their ant hills for safe-keeping at night"..................."In return, the aphids produce a sweet drop of “honeydew” to feed the ants".................. "However, the chickadees and nuthatches prey on the ants and aphids, triggering big declines in the aphid populations — thereby enhancing the growth of the trees".........And even when the trees die, they are "safe houses" for the chickadees and Nuthatches against the killing cold of Winter............The Forest Service has come to learn that "cleaning up the forest" via removing dead snags and slash on the ground is counterproductive to optimizing the population of the very birds who bring life-giving and economic vitality to the Forest
The massive Ponderosa Pines dominate the forests of Northern Arizona, but recent research suggests they depend critically on the smallest of birds.
Posted by Rick Meril at 3:08 PM