Are you looking for Animals that are Unsung Heroes to Man?
Every organism on the planet is interconnected. When people think about the ecosystem and nature, many don’t fully grasp the significance of our reliance on other species. Whether we realize it or not, our survival doesn’t rely on our species alone; it depends on millions of other life forms to stay alive.
Even the animals we find to be most undesirable or unwanted play a vital role in their ecosystem, much so that a significant change in their feeding habits can compromise the food chain and threaten the survival of everything around them.
Thus, the ecological balance needed for a biome to survive depends on all living things working together.
Sure, humans worldwide do their part to protect the environment and give back. Still, for most animals, every day is Earth Day, and they give Mother Nature a little bit of tender loving care just by performing their natural roles in the environment.
From the worms digging through the soil to the minute but tangible zooplankton covering the surfaces of lakes and oceanic bodies, animals play a vital role in human wellness and environmental protection.
These animals also play a crucial role in degrading matter and recycling oxygen from carbon dioxide, a cycle we humans need for survival.
Let’s take a closer look at the top 10 animal heroes that man cannot do without.
Bats are winged animals of the mammalian order Chiroptera, the world’s second-largest order of mammals. They possess adapted forelimbs that serve as wings, making them the only mammals capable of sustained flight.
When we think about bats, for many people, what comes to mind is the image of a vampire in a Hollywood movie. While it may be true that these creatures are somewhat scary-looking, of the 1,200 different bat species, only three sustain on blood.
Even at that, bats are all about saving the earth. And these creatures get a bad rap for the wrong reasons. For example, vampire bats – whose primary food source is mammalian blood, are endemic to only parts of Central and South America. When they do feed, their choice of prey includes mainly livestock and reptiles.
Therefore, if you live on the North American subcontinent, you are likelier to see a big brown vesper bat, an insectivore who poses no threat to humans or their livestock. Insectivorous bats make up about 70% of bat species today.
Among the underappreciated benefits humans can get from bats is the insect pest control service they offer, by feeding on millions of pest insects yearly. This creature of the night is so adept at slaying insects of all kinds that it can consume up to 1,000 insects per hour. This ravenous appetite which helps control bug populations is why farmers should be appreciative of bats for the different million of crops they save each year.
Another type of assistance humans get from insectivorous bats is their controlling disease vectors, such as mosquitoes, which cause malaria and dengue fever. In tropical climes, species of bats have developed such a palate for these vectors that a colony of bats can consume nearly 14,000kg of mosquitoes in a single night.
Similarly, nectar-eating bats are pollinators for over 500 ecologically significant plant species. Bats travel long distances, as most plants cannot produce seeds without pollination. When bats feed on nectar, they inadvertently pick up pollen and transfer it as feed.
Also, droppings from fruit and insects feeding bats species known as Guano play an equally significant ecological role. Guano is a highly effective fertilizer popular for its exceptionally high nitrogen, phosphate, and potassium content farmers. It has all the essential ingredients for plant growth. And in years past, soldiers used it in producing gunpowder and explosive materials.
The significance of bats doesn’t end there. Human medicine is also learning a lot from bats.
Bat saliva is of scientific importance for its hemolytic properties and ability to prevent blood clots, and this can be helpful for stroke and heart attack victims. Besides, bats’ ability to echolocate is also being studied to see how this can help human blindness. All these benefits are why this creature of much folklore comes in first on our top 10 animals list.
Frogs play a significant role in ecosystems around the world. With approximately 6,000 species worldwide, they form a fundamental part of the food chain. They prevent disease transmission by feeding on disease-carrying insects, and their tadpoles help keep waterways clean.
This amphibian population has seen an unprecedented decline in recent years; since 1980, up to 200 species have gone extinct. Although some are poisonous, a more significant faction sbenefits humans.
Frogs don’t just spend their days croaking and hopping from one lily pad to another. Though not as effective as bats, frogs spend much of their day consuming bugs, flies, and other insect pests.
Likewise, frogs act as biological indicators of the suitability of their ecosystems. They can do this due to their porous and permeable skin, which allows substances in their environment to diffuse quickly into their skin and fatty tissues.
Since they can thrive in both aquatic and terrestrial habitats and are the first group of animals to react to imminent biological danger, they can indicate contamination in both habitats surrounding them.
With this in mind, when frogs start to suffer or decline in a particular ecosystem, it is often a sign of a severe ecological dilemma that has gone unnoticed.
Additionally, in medicine, frogs serve a far more significant role than undergoing dissection for high school experiments by humans. Some species of frogs are being studied for their ability to regenerate limbs and how researchers can apply that to improve human welfare.
Could you imagine a world without the visual and acoustic beauty of birds? The benefits we gain from these animals aren’t just cultural. Birds also play an integral role in the functioning of the world’s ecosystems in ways that directly impact human health, food production, and world economies.
The list of bird species is virtually endless, and they have varying abilities that help the ecosystem thrive. They play ecological roles in balancing nature systems, including insect pest control, plant pollination, seed dispersal, and nutrient cycling.
Also, some birds help in soil aeration by digging through the soil with their claws and beaks. That’s when in search of food, such as worms, ants, and termites. Birds also act as bioindicators and can be strong predictors of diseases before epidemic outbreaks.
Number 7 on the list of Animals that are Unsung Heroes to Man. Bees are one of the most important species in our ecosystem, and they live on every continent on earth except Antarctica. At the same time, honeybees may be famous for their delectable honey. And the work they do to help flowers grow, bees do so much more than that.
Bees are the one specie that almost every other animal species on the planet rely upon. The gravity of this statement may sound far-fetched, but it is true. This is because without bees flying around and pollinating plants, many plants would not grow.
Without bees, many popular fruits and crops, such as coffee, watermelon, peaches, raspberries, and almonds, would be in short supply worldwide.
Many of the earth’s plants – about 30% of domesticated crops and 90% of wild plants, depend on these little heroes to grow. Subsequently, reducing bee populations in a particular area would result in food shortage—or even famine at its highest point of decline.
Furthermore, this Hymenoptera insect makes our top 10 animals list because apart from being excellent pollinators and providing yummy honey, they have also been trained to locate active landmines in abandoned sites, and they can sense when toxic chemicals have been released into an area.
Bees are the earth’s most important pollinators, ahead of bats and birds. Unfortunately, the overexploitation of land for agricultural purposes has decimated many wild plant species that bees thrive on their nectar, causing a decline in the population of these insects.
With this in mind, the next time you see bees in your garden, rather than get annoyed and try to swat them to death, you can embrace them by limiting your use of pesticides and creating a welcoming environment for these pollinators. Just be sure to close your windows while at it.
Planktons are a diverse group of microscopic organisms that live in water that cannot move against the water current. This is why they are ocean drifters, although some species grow old enough to propel themselves. Plankton is of two types; phytoplankton [which are plants because they can use sunlight and chlorophyll to generate their energy] and zooplankton [which are small marine animals that feed on phytoplankton and tiny marine organisms].
The latter category is our focus here.
Zooplankton, though minuscule and microscopic, play a vital role in marine ecosystems. Also, because the aquatic food chain relies so heavily on plankton, the survival of these animals is essential for the continuation of even the most giant marine predators.
Without plankton, there would be half the oxygen in today’s world. They produce this oxygen by absorbing much of the carbon dioxide present on the surface of the oceans and, by so doing, reducing the greenhouse effect. They also help replenish the nutrient cycle by breaking down dead organic matter in seas.
These meticulous rodents are widely regarded as “nature’s engineers.” That’s because they create, modify, and maintain habitats and ecosystems, which consequently has a more significant impact on the diversity of any biome.
Beavers are recognized as keystone species, meaning their survival disproportionately influences the species around their relative environment.
For instance, due to their constant gnawing and damming, a family of beavers can create habitats for many other species, including birds, amphibians, and smaller mammals. This way, beavers contribute to biodiversity in a way that cannot be overstated.
Similarly, as ecosystem engineers, beavers create wetland swamps by damming. This, in turn, creates a thriving environment for several fish and reptilian wildlife. The lodges they build also provide homes for small animals such as river otters, minks, and muskrats.
Additionally, the adverse effects of climate change are alleviated by beavers in wetland habitats such as the Everglades. They help these habitats adapt to climate change by storing water, reducing erosion and flooding, and improving hydrological conditions.
Beavers have come a long way from their old reputation as pests. Beavers were almost hunted to extinction in the 1800s. These animals have built back their numbers thanks to environmental sensitization and increased regulation. And they are being reintroduced into parts of nature where they are much needed.
Over 12,000 species of ants are known to man. And they all play a vital role in the ecosystems they are found. Ants are significant to the earth’s topsoil, and these small but mighty insects keep our ecosystem balanced and help clean up rainforests.
Most of their unacknowledged feats come from their work while digging their tunnels. During this intense and organized exercise, they help aerate the soil, decompose dead matter, and recycle nutrients. In doing so, they help provide healthy soil for optimal plant growth.
Ants are also ecologically significant because their activities limit the need for farm practices such as pesticide or fertilizer application. Similarly, seed-harvesting ants disperse seeds along their nutrient-rich nesting grounds, where plants can safely grow free of indulgence from herbivores.
Being mostly considered pests themselves, you’d be surprised at how much they do to control pests. Many ant species enjoy delicacies of insects peskier than them, such as fleas, flies, bug eggs, larvae, or nymphs.
Our mammalian cousins are some of the planet’s most vital animals going unsung. Hence, we see that they make our top 10 animals list. Primates are our closest relative in nature. And are a keystone species in any clime or biome in which they live.
Moreover, their importance does not only lie in kinship or studying our origins. Known as “forest gardeners, ” they are ecologically vital, particularly in tropical rainforests. Their everyday actions help spread seeds as they feed on nuts and fruits. In addition, they fertilize the soil as they pass through waste.
With over 200 species of primates in the world – humans, one of them- the trees that grow from the activities of these mammals are essential in recycling the earth’s atmosphere. Without these trees, the 50% of atmospheric oxygen from the world’s rainforest will significantly reduce.
In like manner, these trees also influence global rainfall patterns and climate change. Unfortunately, one in two species of this evolutionary kin is under extinction threat. With this in mind, we should give more concern to the survival of this order.
Number 2 in the list of Animals that are Unsung Heroes to Man. Worms are several distantly related animals, typically having a long cylindrical tube-like body, and they have no limbs and no sense of sight. Earthworms play a variety of significant roles in the ecosystems they habit. Their feeding and burrowing activities add organic residues and enrich the soil profile. Thereby enhancing humus formation, decomposition, nutrient cycling, and soil structure.
Similarly, earthworm burrows persist in the soil as macro pores, and this action provides better root growth channels, water penetration, and gaseous exchange. Although these slimy creatures may lack the appeal of more familiar animals, their contribution to our world is undeniable.
In addition, scientists state that agricultural lands output a 25 to 30% increase in crop yield. This stat is for when worms are present compared to when they are not. Also, worms help the climate by facilitating and accelerating carbon sequestration by incorporating organic materials into the soil and forming macro aggregates.
Therefore, when next you encounter a worm on a footpath, perhaps you’ll be kind enough to our underground ally. Think about the army of worms working tirelessly for us below ground.
Though not technically animals, they are not technically plants either. Perhaps this distinction, or lack thereof, is the reason these eukaryotes don’t get their fair share of recognition. This is why we are bringing them to the forefront. With this notable mention in our top 10 animal unsung heroes list.
Having their kingdom, fungi are vital to human life on many levels.
Firstly, they influence the well-being of our population, and that’s because they are a foundational part of the nutrient cycle in the earth’s ecosystem. Similarly, they help control the population of pests that threaten to damage crops and wildlife.
In plants, the mycorrhizal relationship fungi form with plant roots is essential for the aeration and productivity of many plant species. Without these fungi in their root systems, 80% of trees and plants would not survive.
Also, fungi are nature’s decomposers. And they decompose dead plants and animals and recycle them into energy for building another generation. Moreover, fungi such as mushrooms are delicacies and feature prominently in the human diet.
Not only that, in the field of medicine, fungi have been responsible for significant medical breakthroughs, the chief of which is the widely popular penicillin antibiotic, gotten from mold fungi of the specie penicillium.
More recently, fungi are being tested for their use as biological pest control agents. And this research has seen tremendous results.
These reasons are why fungi, although not considered an animal, deserve a spot on any list of the top 10 animals underappreciated by our kind.
Summary of Animals that are Unsung Heroes to Man
Many species of the top 10 animals pointed out above are in danger due to deforestation, habitat loss, pollution, parasites, diseases, climate change, and other commercial and environmental concerns. Acknowledging the importance of these animals can benefit them and our environment. You can help reduce the effects of human activities on them by being aware of
human impact on their ecosystems, using eco-friendly brands and products, and making conscientious decisions regarding their survival.
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