Anita sends in an article from the Audubon Society on how lyrebirds help the forests through the subversive act of tilling:
“The Superb Lyrebird is already famous for its ornate tail feathers and beautiful songs. Now, a new study in Ecological Applications has given us another reason to admire this Australian specialty: It turns out that lyrebirds are one of nature’s best ecosystem engineers, too.
When the ground-dwelling birds aren’t singing or shaking their ornate tail feathers to impress a potential mate, they spend their time foraging, using their powerful, rake-like feet to unearth insects and crustaceans. Each bird overturns vast amounts of leaf litter and soil in the wild—up to a staggering 352 tons, or 11 dump trucks each year, according to researchers, who spent two years monitoring Superb Lyrebirds in the Central Highlands of Victoria. On average, the researchers found that the birds displaced at least 155 tons (or 5 dump trucks worth) of soil and leaf litter per hectare each year.
The discovery means the birds move more soil than any other animal on land, including gophers, moles, and earthworms. Even animals that spend most of their lives underground, such as gophers and moles, only displace around 10-20 tons of soil per hectare each year. (Earthworms come close, moving upwards of 100 tons of soil per hectare per year.)
It is “a gobsmacking amount of soil,” says Alex Maisey, an ecology Ph.D. candidate at La Trobe University, and the lead author of the study.”
What are they thinking? Elaine – did you hear about this?
Someone please make this bird go extinct!
*Original tractor image “Farmall Tractor Pull 2015” by Mobilus In Mobili is licensed under CC BY 2.0