Carrion, Dung and Nests



The Concourses and communities that result from the death, the secretions and the reproduction of plants have now been mentioned. The variegated pattern of minor communities has to be completed by describing those resulting from the death, excretions and breeding of animals. These communities are mostly based upon vertebrates because of the larger size of the latter, though of course the three biological phenomena are universal, and are frequently exploited by single species or by too few to merit the term community. If all these minor communities are added to the others that inhabit the less discontinuous and more permanent zones of terrestrial and transition litter and soil, and the bottoms of water bodies, also caves and some domestic habitats, it can be realized that dying and dead organic matter provides habitats for some thousands of animal species. This is one reason why habitat classification based purely upon associations of green plants is inadequate for the study and recording of animal communities. There is a very short poem by Ogden Nash,343 entitled ‘Goodbye Bugs’, that pithily expresses this fundamental dichotomy within ecosystems:

Some insects feed on rosebuds, And others feed on carrion. Between them they devour the earth Bugs are totalitarian.


Animal Community Dead Body Grey Squirrel General Habitat Insectivorous Bird 
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© Charles S. Elton 1966

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