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Old 04-13-2010, 12:17 PM   #1
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Default Eating Like a Bird Helps Forests Grow

Eating Like a Bird Helps Forests Grow
ScienceDaily
Apr. 7, 2010

Eating like a bird helps forests grow
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A new study examines complex interactions in the middle of the pyramid, where birds, bats and lizards consume insects. These predators eat enough insects to indirectly benefit plants and increase their growth, Smithsonian scientists report. "Our findings are relevant to natural communities like grasslands and forests, but also to human food production, as these insect-eating animals also reduce insect pests on crop plants," said Sunshine Van Bael, scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.

Previous theory on food webs suggested that the effects of insect-eaters on plants would be weak, because animals like birds not only feed on herbivores -- which is good for the plants- but may also benefit them by feeding spiders and predatory insects. If a bird eats a lot of spiders, for example...
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