When it comes to earth moving, Australia’s superb lyrebirds are nature’s own dump trucks.
They’re famous for their ability to mimic just about anything, but that’s just scratching the surface.
Researchers at La Trobe University have discovered that the birds can move the equivalent of 11 dump trucks of soil and leaf litter every year.
Lead researcher Alex Maisey says while they forage for food, superb lyrebirds use their sharp claws to mix and aerate the forest floor.
“The superb lyrebird truly is Australia’s most hard-working ecosystem engineer,” he said.
“Just like the well-known beaver in North America, that uses logs and mud to dam a stream and create a deep pond, this Australian songbird is changing the environment in ways that can benefit other organisms.”
The scientists discovered that by moving large amounts of earth, lyrebirds change litter decomposition and the structure of soil, creating opportunities for other species.
“We believe wildfire is the only comparable natural disturbance process shaping ecosystem structure at this scale,” Mr Maisey said.
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