How the chipmunk helps forests flourish

July 27, 2014, 1 p.m.
chipmonk

Photo: Teri Franzen/MNN Flickr Group

The forest's tiny helpers

Though they’re little, chipmunks play an important role in forest ecosystems. Their famous behavior of collecting and stashing food does more than just ensure the small rodents make it through a cold winter. By harvesting and hoarding seeds and nuts, chipmunks help to disperse species of trees throughout a forest, and their consumption of those seeds also alters or limits the germination rates of certain species, which can help to increase the biodiversity of forests. Chipmunks also eat many different types of fungi, which helps to disperse spores for fungi species that cannot disperse spores through the air. Some of these fungi species have symbiotic relationships with trees, which means trees of the forest benefit in more than one way from the feeding habits of chipmunks.

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Jaymi Heimbuch is a writer and photographer at Mother Nature Network. Follow her on Twitter, Google+, and Facebook.