The European bee-eater (Merops apiaster) as anecosystem engineer in arid environments

European Bee-eater (Merops apiaster) Science Article 3

abstract

Arid environments are fragile ecosystems where management is particularly complicated.Determining target species that contribute to understanding the functioning of suchenvironments is of basic importance. Here we assess the role of the European bee-eater, aburrow-nesting bird species, as an ecosystem engineer in arid ecosystems. We concludethat this species may play an important function in basic abiotic and biotic processes ofarid environments since: (i) it can be a major bioturbating organism in arid areas, removinga noticeable amount of soil and making it more sensitive to climatic factors, (ii) it enhancesbiodiversity by providing nesting and roosting habitats to a broad array of organisms, and(iii) it provides resources (food) to many other species, thus reinforcing the structure of thecommunity and enhancing more complex food webs.

A. Casas-Criville & F. Valera, Journal of Arid Environments 60 (2005) 227-238

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