Role of Birds in Maintaining Ecosystems

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Birds are grouped by biologists into what's called a class---the class aves---on a level with other such classes as mammals and reptiles. Birds function as an integral and highly significant component of ecosystems worldwide, from the polar regions to the tropics.

Seed Dissemination

  • Many plants in an ecosystem are dependent upon seed dispersal for successful regeneration and birds are major seed carriers.

Predator

  • Although some birds are primarily plant eaters, many are predators, and their food includes insects, amphibians, reptiles and mammals. Birds are important agents in keeping populations of these prey organisms in check.

Prey

  • Birds function not only as predators, but they themselves serve as prey, forming an important link in ecosystems' food chains.

Pollination

  • The range and diversity of birds' functioning in ecosystems includes pollination; a hummingbird---as a wildflower pollinator---is a familiar example.

Disease Dissemination

  • Birds---because they can move great distances in a relatively short period of time---are important carriers of disease organisms, not only for humans but for animals and plants.

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