You can thank our avian friends for helping make all those pine trees so darn tall. According to a new study by Kailen Mooney, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Colorado, Boulder, insectivorous birds — chickadees and nuthatches — indirectly helped pine trees grow by up to 33% by feeding on parasitic organisms that sap their resources. They are voracious consumers of harmful insect species such as caterpillars, ants, aphids and beetles.
In addition, the birds also manage to modify the trees' "chemical flavor" by upping the amount of terpenes — chemicals that repel parasites by imparting a foul taste to the trees' resin. "More than anything, this study underscores the importance of preserving the ecological communities in the forest and not just the trees," concluded Mooney.
Via ::LiveScience: Birds Help Trees Soar (news website)
See also: ::Say Cheese!: Rare "Smiling" Bird Photographed for First Time, ::It's For the Birds
Image courtesy of Maj Adev via flickr