So, here is another aspect of the future of animals - that our understanding of their role in the ecosystem may change and grow.
What Does a Bear Do in the Alaska Woods? Disperse Seeds
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Does a bear leave scat in the woods? The answer is obvious but the effects on an ecosystem may not be.
A study by Oregon State University researchers concludes that brown and black bears, and not birds, as commonly thought, are primary distributers of small fruit seeds in southeast Alaska, spreading the seeds through their excrement.
“Bears are essentially like farmers,” said Taal Levi, an Oregon State assistant professor. “By planting seeds everywhere, they promote a vegetation community that feeds them.”
Seed dispersal is a key component in the understanding of any ecosystem, Levi said. The study is the first instance of a temperate plant being primarily dispersed by mammals through their gut, Levi said. The finding suggests repercussions for plant life when bears are removed.
Brown bears, or grizzlies, flourish in size and numbers in the Tongass National Forest, America’s largest, because they gorge on spawning salmon. As they wait for fish to enter streams, they eat berries.
In this June 2017 file photo, a black bear cub forages for food along a salmon stream below a bear viewing spot for tourists in the Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area in Juneau, Alaska.
(AP Photo/Becky Bohrer, File)