The forest ecosystem is always in a:
- Building phase (nutrients building into trees, plants, animals).
- Decay phase (nutrients returning to soil).
Both phases are essential. Both are driven by living plants and animals playing one of the following roles.
Producers — trees, shrubs, herbs, ferns and mosses — use carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas), minerals and sunlight to produce biomass. Plants are the base of the Larch food chain. They provide nutrients for the animals in the forest.
Consumers are the insects, birds, mammals, frogs and other animals that get their energy either directly or indirectly from producers. Herbivores eat only plants. Other animals eat animal prey; they are secondary consumers. A deer, for example, feeds on leaves and other parts of trees or bushes and is therefore a primary consumer. A fox, on the other hand, feeds on small animals like mice and is therefore a secondary consumer.
Decomposers are bacteria, fungi and other organisms that devour dead producers and consumers. They play a critical role in the forest ecosystem. They recycle energy and nutrients by breaking down organic material to make it available again for both producers and consumers.
Each living thing in the Sanctuary has a role to play.
- Trees produce leaves and wood, using water, minerals, carbon dioxide and sunlight.
- Beetle larvae feed on plant leaves, shredding them into smaller pieces.
- Fungi digest the cellulose of wood.
- Bacteria digest the bodies of dead animals as well as their waste/scat.
- Some beetles eat other insects.
- Many bird species feed on beetles or other insects.