Eco-Engineers by Aayat Irfan
Although engineering may be a common career, the significance of engineers keeps increasing. Engineers are creative and diligent, they design, innovate and maintain structures. Similar to engineers, the environment consists of its own set of engineers called ecosystem engineers. They are essential in creating, modulating, and maintaining the environment. These fascinating creatures include the mini, mighty mechanics - ants, termites, bees, and dung beetles.
Tiny Ecosystem Engineers
Ants are considered ecosystem engineers for their incredible strength and teamwork skills. They help decompose the organic matter by feeding on it, in other words, they help to keep the environment clean. Seed dispersal is done by ants, which is very vital for the survival of plant species. When ants dig in the soil, the soil is aerated, hence oxygen is transferred to the plant roots.
Termites are irreplaceable creatures, and they play an essential role in the ecosystem. Just like ants, termites are efficient decomposers, not only that, but they also help in recycling deadwood. The soil is aerated when termites build and mold tunnels. Termites affect homes by weakening the wooden structures, but their importance is rarely highlighted.
Photographs © Pixabay, Sandeep Handa (left) & Roy Buri (right)
There are around 20,000 species of bees in the world, each one of them very unique. Bees are key for plant growth. Bees perform pollination allowing plants to grow seeds and fruits. The only insects that produce food consumed by humans are honeybees. The majority of plants that we need for food depend on bees for pollination – almonds, apples, melons, berries, broccoli, and many more.
Dung beetles also nicknamed the ‘cleaning crew’ or the ‘recyclers’ are hardworking creatures that eat and bury dung. They bury dung to build their nests in them. The dung that they use eventually makes the soil fertile. It can carry 1141 times its weight. Dung beetles have various roles to play, and all of them are played with some mastery.
Photographs © Pixabay, Castleguard (left) & Bayhaus (right)
Unfortunately, the destruction of habitats of these amazing yet crucial creatures is making their populations fall down. Their extinction could lead to the breakdown of the whole plant pollination cycle and the animals relying on these insects would die too. The end result would basically be a massive extinction of several species, but there is still hope. This extinction can be prevented, only if everyone as a community understands the urgency of such a situation and decides to take collective action towards finding solutions.
Dung Beetles | The unsung heroes of the wilderness
In this video, we explain why Dung beetles are the unsung heroes of the wilderness. Believe it or not, these little creatures play a very important role in our ecosystem. Watch the video to learn more about the wonderful Dung Beetle.
About the Author:
Aayat Irfan is a fifteen-year-old student and a budding writer, from Mozambique. Her written works include topics such as nature, culture, travel, and tourism.
She won the Bloomsday Poetry Competition in 2021, which was held by the Irish embassy in Maputo.
She is also the first Mozambican blogger on Voices of Youth – UNICEF.