APR 05, 2016 8:58 AM PDT

Woodpeckers Utilize Wood-Hungry Fungi to Help With Hole-Pecking

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

If you’ve ever been camping, or live in tree-dense areas, then you may have heard or seen a woodpecker. These birds love to use their beaks as jackhammers and buzz away at the trunks of trees to create little holes.
 
The holes they make can be used for various reasons – they may be trying to excavate food from out of the tree trunk, or they may be trying to create an inhabitable place to stay. In some cases, the sound that a woodpecker makes is even used in the Spring time as a way to attract mates.
 

Woodpeckers create holes in trees for various reasons, but do they call upon wood-eating fungi to help make them?


Nevertheless, new research seems to share some additional interesting information about these wood-pecking birds. The findings are published in The Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
 
It would seem Red Cockaded Woodpeckers not only use their beaks to peck at trees to create the holes they do, but they also call upon wood-eating fungi that they carry on their person to help with the tree-excavating process.
 
It’s believed that the fungi may help to soften or weaken the wood before a woodpecker starts its long and tiring pecking process. By weakening the wood beforehand, a woodpecker can put less effort into their pecking and still achieve a relatively decent-sized tree trunk hole where they can search for food or even nest.
 
“If our birds are shown to carry fungi, more than likely there are very many other birds that carry fungi,” said Michelle Jusino of the US Forest Center for Forest Mycology Research in Wisconsin.
 
During a study, scientists actually swabbed the bill of the animals, as well as the trucks of the trees where the birds were excavating.
 
It was found that similar samples of wood-eating fungi were present in each, and presents strong evidence that the birds utilize these fungi types to help them with their needs.
 
So the question remains – what other species of birds use wood-weakening fungi for the same purpose, and is this an important discovery in the dispersal of these species of fungi?
 
It may help scientists to better explain how the ecosystem grow with the help of other animals propelling species throughout the wild.

Source: Royal Society Publishing via New Scientist

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
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