Arborists and other tree-care professionals frequently talk about the benefits trees provide to homeowners (and people in general), but it is important to recognize the myriad benefits trees provide to animals of all shapes and sizes. In fact, trees provide a wealth of benefits to the animals living near them, and in many ways, the animals have come to depend on trees for their very survival.
Although trees support animals in a nearly infinite number of ways, six of the most notable ways are listed below:
1. Trees provide shelter from the elements.
If you’ve ever walked outside right before a thunderstorm, or you’ve looked out at the trees during a downpour, you may have noticed that birds and other animals often hide amid tree canopies to stay dry and warm. This is especially important for small creatures, who can quickly become dangerously cold in wet weather. Conversely, trees also provide shade for animals during the long, hot summer, thereby giving them a comfortable place to hang out during the middle of the day.
2. Many trees produce food that nourishes wildlife.
The fruits, nuts and seeds produced by many trees provides an important resource for many animals. Some animals even derive the bulk of their calories from the trees. In fact, trees and the animals that feed upon their fruits often depend upon each other for survival: The animal is fed by the tree, but the tree is able to spread its seeds more widely thanks to the feeding behaviors of these animals.
3. Trees provide places where animals can raise their young.
Raising offspring is a tricky thing in the wild. Animals must protect their young from predators, temperature extremes and other dangers if they are to survive, so they need somewhere safe to hang out while their young develop. Some species dig burrows or dens in which to do so, but a surprising number of creatures find that tree hollows provide even greater security. Even animals that don’t take care of their young, such as goannas and snakes, may lay their eggs inside the hollows of trees.
4. Trees attract prey animals for predators.
The nuts and fruits trees produce attract a variety of small herbivores and omnivores, and this in turn attracts a number of animals that feed upon these nut-, fruit- and seed-eaters. Additionally, a number of insects feed upon the bark and other nutritious tissues of trees, and these bugs attract the birds, lizards and frogs, who feed upon them. And although it is true that many animals use trees as a safe refuge for their young, some predators routinely hunt for prey in these types of locations.
5. Trees blanket the ground in rich leaf litter.
Even evergreen trees eventually shed their leaves periodically, and these shed leaves provide a wealth of resources for the local fauna. For example, many small reptiles and other critters make their home in the relatively safety of the leaf litter, where they are protected from temperature extremes and able to avoid the attention of predators. The leaf litter also serves as food for a variety of invertebrates, which means that the small predators lurking within the leaf litter have a ready food source all around them.
6. Trees produce the oxygen animals need to survive.
Setting aside the shelter and food trees provide to wildlife, trees provide something even more fundamental: They produce the bulk of the oxygen these animals breathe. Trees (and all other green plants) do so as a byproduct of photosynthesis – the manner by which trees create their own food. Additionally, trees absorb a great deal of the carbon dioxide animals produce, which helps keep our atmosphere properly balanced and habitable.
As you can see, the trees in your yard are not only valuable to you, but they represent a crucial resource for most of the critters living around you. If you’d like to help support the local wildlife, give your friends at Trav’s Tree Service a call. One of our certified arborists can visit your property and help you figure out ways to maximize the benefits your current trees provide and make suggestions regarding new tree installations.