Reflecting on the recent celebration of National Tree Day, often the first thing that comes to mind on the topic of the importance of trees is their role in our environment. And while trees play an important role in contributing to the environment, perhaps a more specific and observable role they play is their crucial part in sustaining a functioning ecosystem.
Trees contribute to the ecosystem in more ways than one to support life. An example of this is trees as an ecosystem themselves. An ecosystem can be any size as it is simply a system formed by living organisms interacting with each other and their surroundings. A simple gumtree sapling is an example of this. On a single gumtree sapling one may find ants, beetles, bees, arachnids – all living, interacting and feeding on the gumtree, creating a small ecosystem for the organisms to thrive in. These small ecosystems formed by trees can help make up much larger ecosystems such as rainforests or bushland, which ultimately make up what is known as the biosphere (all earth’s ecosystems combined).
Trees will also act as a food source for other animals because they are a producer organism which sit on the bottom of the food chain (or first trophic level) and act as food for other organisms, fed on by animals higher up in the food chain. Another way trees support the ecosystem is by forming commensalism with other species, in which the species benefits by living in or on the tree without harming it as a species interaction. This can be seen true with birds, possums, reptiles, bugs and plants which stem out from a tree’s trunk. Tree’s play such an important part in the ecosystem by fulfilling these roles. We can easily take for granted how much they benefit thousands of different multi-cellular organisms, which helps hold ecosystems in place and holds together our perfectly created biosphere.