The new life of dead trees
Dani Tinker, with the National Wildlife Federation, on the wonderful weird things growing in that felled log out back.
I recently learned that dead trees provide vital habitat for more than 1,000 species of wildlife nationwide. The two most common types of dead wood you’ll find in your yard, along a trail or at a park are snags (upright) and logs (on the ground). Despite their name, dead trees are crawling with life. From the basking lizards on top to the beetles underneath, the list of wildlife that depend on logs feels endless. Here’s a sampling of what you may find if you explore a log more closely.
Summer is a fantastic time to find lizards, turtles and other cold-blooded species basking in the sun. This behavior is primarily a matter of thermoregulation, but may also be a means to regulate Vitamin D. Ants, snails and other insects are often found crawling along a log, while chipmunks and squirrels may use it as a place to rest.
Logs provide great cover for small mammals like foxes, rabbits, bobcats, skunks and raccoons. Bobcats are known to nap inside logs, while foxes may use it as a place to build their den. The inside of a log also provides protection from some predators. The picture below is of a red-tail hawk attempting to get a squirrel, who cleverly took refuge inside a log.
A nature walk rarely feels complete without flipping at least one log. The treasures beneath a log may include beetles, worms, spiders, salamanders, newts or centipedes. What you find on your flipping adventure will depend on the time of year, weather, moisture, and a number of other factors, but it’s all worth it. As you flip, roll the log back toward you, using it as a barrier and giving critters a chance to get away.
Snakes will often use the space next to a log to rest or look for food. Since logs are crawling with life (prey to a snake), it’s a good place to find a meal. They might also curl up against or inside a log to rest and stay hidden from predators. Egg-laying snake species may deposit their clutches in or under a logs to keep them protected.
Moss, fungi and lichen are a few special organisms that can be found growing on logs. The simple structure of mosses (a type of bryophyte) allow them to grow where other plants may not be able. Dead wood is a place where many species of lichen and fungi thrive as well.
Whether you explore logs along your next nature walk. or decide to keep one in your backyard, logs need some appreciation. They provide both cover and a place for wildlife to raise their young. It’s also a step toward qualifying your yard as an official Certified Wildlife Habitat.
Understandably, not everyone wants or has space for dead wood in their yard. You can visit a local nature site and investigate the wildlife that depend on logs near you. Enter your zip code into Nature Find to get a list of parks and trails nearby.
What have you observed on, under or near a dead tree?
This article was originally published by The National Wildlife Federation.
YouTuber Oxalis shared Ryan Deboodt’s gorgeous footage of the world’s largest cave, Vietnam’s Hang Son Doong.
Australia’s Sampling the Abyss project went 2.5 miles underwater 62 miles off the east coast of the continent, netting a treasure trove of delightful creatures, including a peanut worm that in Rob Zugaro’s photo looks a lot like a…
I had a hard time watching this one (embedded below), but it stands as a remarkable testament to the fitness of mammalian embodiment to its evolutionary niche: the brutal execution of competition and confrontation. (via, via) It looks like almost everyone decided on the name Fig, so Fig it is! 🍑 Fig finally got to […]
Despite the upfront cost, electric toothbrushes are much better at removing plaque than those freebies from the dentist’s office. For those who struggle to fill the American Dental Association’s recommended two minutes of brushing time, or anyone with limited dexterity, a sonic toothbrush can give your oral care routine a boost.To keep your chops healthy […]
Learning a new language will give your resume an upgrade, sure, but it will also provide a huge cognitive boost for mental tasks outside of translation and conversation. Bilingual brains have been shown to be better at handling multiple concurrent tasks, and gaining fluency in a new tongue is an amazing way to improve memory, […]
If you struggle to get a good night’s rest, consider replacing your pillows before dropping hundreds on a new mattress. You can give your tired neck a break with a 2-pack of memory foam pillows, available now in the Boing Boing Store.Each of these pillows is stuffed with cooling polyurethane foam that molds to your […]