Some ecological interactions are extremely intimate and require multiple animals to play a role: for example, the interactions between the agouti (pictured), the brazil-nut tree, the orchid bee and its orchid.
This is quite a long one, but bear with me... (or skip to the end).
The brazil-nut tree produces pods which contain its seeds (the brazil nut) and these pods are as hard as rocks. The only animal capable of breaking into these pods is the agouti, who then hides the seeds in the ground to keep them away from rivals (just like a squirrel). The agouti often won’t remember all the locations of their hidden seeds and so some seeds germinate and grow into the brazil-nut tree. Thus, without the agouti the tree would not be able to spread its seeds.
There is also only one type of bee, the Euglossine (or orchid) bee, who is capable of pollinating the brazil-nut tree’s flowers - this task tends to fall to the females as the males play a different role in this ecological story. Thus, without the orchid bees, the brazil-nut tree couldn’t be pollinated.
These orchid bees also cannot mate without the presence of a particular orchid - which is only found in intact rainforest habitats. During the bee’s mating ritual, male bees visit this orchid to gather fragrant chemicals from the flowers, which are highly attractive to the female bees. Thus, without these orchids in the surrounding rainforests, the orchid bees cannot mate AND these orchids can only be pollinated by male orchid bees! 🐝
So… without adequate areas of rainforest there are no orchids; without the bees the orchids cannot be pollinated; without the orchids the bees cannot mate; without the bees the brazil-nut tree cannot be pollinated; and without the agouti the brazil-nut tree cannot germinate new saplings! (and we wouldn't have any brazil nuts either)
These symbiotic relationships just show how intimately linked our environment is - any action, such as the loss of habitat or the loss of even a single species, will have indirect effects felt throughout the entire ecosystem.
Photography: @thorstenspoerlein ⚘