Meet the Wildlife for National Wildlife Week
We are pleased to introduce you to the featured wildlife for National Wildlife Week 2013 - Branching Out for Wildlife! Species include trees and a few of the many wildlife species that rely on trees.
We are featuring nine species per day, organized according to the part of the tree they generally are found in or use most. Additional species information is being added daily.
All About Trees
What is a Tree?
Trees are living organisms, and like all living things, they grow, reproduce and respond to their environment. They are also plants, and manufacture their food through a process called photosynthesis. Trees are a member of the family of woody plants which perservere and hold their shape for many years. Tree are also the longest living organisms on earth (see the Bristlecone Pine). Click here to learn more about tree biology.
The Benefits of Trees to Wildlife and People
Trees provide us with wood, paper, nuts, fruit, oils, and countless other products we depend on every day.
Trees are sometimes called the lungs of the Earth because they renew our air supply by absorbing carbon dioxide and producing oxygen for us to breathe. They absorb pollutants like carbon through their leaves, trapping (or “sequestering”), and filtering contaminants in the air. One tree can sequester more than one ton of carbon in its lifetime.
Trees improve water quality and can slow the runoff of rain water, absorbing water through their roots and filtering water through their tissues. The roots of trees stabilize the soil, helping to prevent erosion. They provide shade and shelter, keeping houses and buildings cool in the summer, but letting in light in the winter, helping to conserve energy. A tree’s leafy canopy catches precipitation before it reaches the ground, allowing some of it to gently drip and the rest to evaporate. Trees can lower the air temperature and humidity by evaporating water in their leaves. Trees can also act as wind breaks.
Trees add value to communities. The value of homes near trees is 9 to 15% higher than homes without. Research has even shown that people are more likely to linger longer and pay more for goods and services along a shaded avenue. Neighborhoods with lots of greenery have fewer crimes than those without any trees. A belt of trees next to a highway can cut highway noise dramatically. Trees also have a relaxing effect on people, reducing stress and imparting a sense of well-being. Chidren with attention deficit disorder are better able to concentrate after time spent in outdoor, green settings. Hospital patients with views of trees recover faster than those without.
Trees create valuable habitat for wildlife and other plants wherever they occur. They provide oxygen, shelter, nesting places, food, water, resting places and hiding places for predators and prey. Birds use trees as places to roost and find shelter, sources of food, and places to raise their young. Mammals may make dens in trees or under trees, use tree branches for making their homes (like beaver), and use trees as places to hide and as sources of food--eating leaves, shoots, berries, bark or insects living in a tree. Amphibians (like tree frogs), reptiles and even aquatic animals also depend on trees for habitat (like fish in a mangrove swamp), to keep the banks of streams stable and for clean water. And insects and other invertebrates find food, shelter, cover and places to raise their young in trees. Trees benefit wildlife at all stages of their lifecycle, even after they have died. Click here to learn more about how trees benefit wildlife throughout their lifecycle. Read about the wildlife species below to learn how they depend on trees.
Leaves, Fruit and Flowers
Wildlife in this category spend much of their time in the tree canopy, feeding on or visiting the leaves, fruit and flowers.
Wildlife in this category are found on tree branches or use tree branches for food, for cover, for building (as with beaver) or for raising their young.
Wildlife in this category are often found on or in the trunk of a tree (in a tree cavity) or use the bark on the trunk of a tree for cover, among other things.
Wildlife in this category are found in on the forest floor, foraging on seedlings, nesting or foraging in the leaf litter, and sheltering under fallen trees, in streams shaded by trees or between the roots of wetland trees.
Roots and Soil
Wildlife in this category spend at least part of their time in the soil around tree roots, in burrows, under rotten logs, and in the case of salmon that die on their way to spawning grounds or after spawning, decomposing into the soil of streambanks and returning nutrients to forest soils.