Science & Technology

Ekidnas play their part in combating climate change without thinking about it

200 years after European agricultural practices, Australian soil Bad shape – Depleted of carbon-containing nutrients and organic matter. This is bad news for both soil health and global warming efforts.

Native Australian echidna may have some of the solutions. Short-beaked echidna digs holes, ditches and pits in the soil while looking for ants.our the study We have clarified how much the “engineering” of this soil will bring benefits to the environment.

Excavation of Ekidnas traps leaves and seeds in the soil. This helps improve soil health, promote plant growth, and retain carbon in the soil rather than in the atmosphere.

The importance of this process cannot be underestimated. Improving the habitat of echidnas can significantly improve soil health and strengthen climate change efforts.

Natural excavator

Many animals improve widespread soil health dig.. these “Ecosystem engineer” I will provide a service It benefits not only the soil, but also plants and other organisms.

In Australia, most of our drilling animals are extinct, restricted, or Being threatened.. But echidna is not. General In most habitats of large areas of the continent.

Short-beaked echidna is prolific bargain..Our long term monitoring In the Australian Wildlife Sanctuary Scotia SanctuarySuggests that one echidna moves about 7 tonnes (a cargo of about 8 trailers) of soil each year in southwestern New South Wales.

The soil depressions left by the echidna can be up to 50 centimeters (19.69 inches) wide and 15 centimeters deep.If there is a shortage of ants, such as in a highly degraded area, the echidna will dig deeper to find it. Termites, Make a bigger pit.

This ability to move the soil unknowingly provides another very important function: matchmaking between seeds and water.

Play Cupid

In order for seeds to germinate, they must come with water and soil nutrients. Our experiments have shown how echidnas drilling can help make that happen.

After it rained, we tested whether the seeds were trapped in the echidnas holes. On the soil surface of a semi-arid forest near Kovar, New South Wales, different seeds were carefully marked with different colored dyes and holes similar to those created by echidna were dug. afterwards, Simulate Rain event.

Most of the seeds were washed into the pits, and the seeds that started in the pits stayed there. Experiments have shown how echidnas holes facilitate the encounter of seeds, water and nutrients, giving them a better chance of germinating and surviving in poor Australian soil.

The healing pits become “hot spots” for vegetation and soil, from which vegetation can spread throughout the landscape.

Our research found that some pits are also unique Microbial community And Soil invertebrate.. They probably play an important role in decomposing organic matter to produce soil carbon.

It is no wonder that many human efforts to restore soil mimic the natural structures constructed by animals such as echidna.

The burrow echidna. (Slowmotiongli / Getty Images)

Short-beaked echidna as a carbon farmer

our Recent research It also shows how echidnas drilling can help increase carbon in depleted soil.

When organic matter is on the surface of the soil, it is broken down by violence Ultraviolet rays It releases carbon and nitrogen into the atmosphere. However, when the echidna forages, the substance is buried in the soil. There, they are exposed to microorganisms, which break down substances and release carbon and nitrogen into the soil.

This will not happen immediately. According to our research, it takes 16-18 months for pit carbon levels to exceed bare land carbon levels.

This entire process of digging, capturing and accumulating echidnas creates a patchwork of debris, carbon, nutrients and plant hotspots. These fertile islands promote healthy and functional ecosystems and become more important as the world gets hotter and drier.

Utilize the power of echidnas

Soil restoration can be costly and impractical on vast lands. Soil turbulence caused by echidna should provide cost-effective restoration options and take advantage of this potential.

Australian echidnas population is currently Not threatened.. However, landscape management is necessary to secure healthy echidnas populations in the future.

Short-beaked echidna often evacuate to hollow logs, so removing fallen wood reduces habitat and feeding grounds.Restrictions on practices such as: Firewood removal Necessary to prevent habitat loss.

And because of its slow movement, echidnas are often killed on our roads.To deal with this, shrubs and above-ground plants need to be planted and created between patches of primeval forest. Vegetation corridor Therefore, the echidna can be safely moved from one place to the next.

The sharp spines of the echidna provide some protection from natural predators, but have no effect on introduced predators such as foxes and cats. Therefore, we also need a strategy to control these threats.

The health of Australia’s vulnerable environment Serious decline.. Echidna already offers valuable ecosystem services. To continue this, we need protection and upbringing.

David John Eldridge, Professor of Dryland Ecology, UNSW..

This article will be republished from conversation Under a Creative Commons license.Read Original work..

Ekidnas play their part in combating climate change without thinking about it Ekidnas play their part in combating climate change without thinking about it

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