The earth, its ecosystems, and its creatures are all deeply connected. The existence of many species, including us, depends on the survival of others. There are 5 animals in particular that we rely on for our well-being, and which help us just by performing their natural roles in their environment.
Wherever ants are found, they improve the health of the soil by helping in the decomposition process (turning up more soil than earthworms), digging tunnels–which aerates the soil, and recycling nutrients. They help clean up rainforests and keep ecosystems in balance. Ants transport seeds, either storing them in their nests, where they can safely grow or by dispersing seeds further away, where plants have a chance to thrive. Ants also love to eat flies, fleas and bedbugs, helping keep those pests away.
Yes it’s true. They are actually far more beneficial than harmful to humans. Termites are detritivores and decomposers that consume decomposing plant material, and by recycling it, helps balance ecosystem energy. Termites also have a unique feature: their gut contains microorganisms that break down cellulose (building blocks for plants), which is indigestible without this symbiotic relationship. Plants need termites and we need plants.
Bats are exceptionally important to the balance of the ecosystem. Insectivorous bats (which 70% of the species are) consume millions of pest insects each year, saving billions of dollars of crops, while reducing the need for chemical pesticides. In many places of the world, mosquitoes carry deadly diseases such as malaria and dengue fever, and a single bat can eat up to a thousand mosquitoes in one hour.
There is more. Bats are also crucial pollinators for over 500 plant species, many of which are ecologically different, just by drinking a flower’s nectar, and transferring pollen as they feed from one plant to another. Bat droppings have significant roles for plant dispersal, dispersing seeds far away, helping plants to grow and survive in a variety of locations. Bats have been called the “farmers of the tropics” because of their role in dispersing plants such as avocados, figs, cashews, and dates.
They act as bio-indicators of the health of the ecosystem. Since they have the ability to live on land as well as in the water, frogs will often be the first animals to react to biological hazards, and are helpful for warning humans to take action. They are also a food source for many carnivorous species and are needed for maintaining balanced ecosystems.
Birds perform a broad variety of ecological roles, including forest decomposition, insect pest control, nutrient recycling, bio-indication of ecosystem health, plant pollination, and seed dispersal. Some ground-dwelling birds even help aerate and turn up soil with their claws. Birds keep systems in balance, but they are not only ecologically significant to us—they also provide inspiration with their aesthetic magnificence.