how do animals help the environment

How Do Animals Help the Environment? The Surprising Ways Fauna Benefits Our Planet

Last Updated on August 6, 2023 by Annie Baldwin

Animals play a crucial role in various ecosystems and contribute to combating the climate crisis.

Understanding how fauna helps the environment reveals the interconnected nature of life on Earth.

This article explores the many ways animals support global habitats and why preserving biodiversity matters.

How Do Animals Help the Environment?

Several animals in the wild
The simple fact that animals have supported our planet helps us to understand the significance of their existence. The ecology, which Mother Nature has refined over time, allows all of the plants and animals to coexist and maintain a balance. Image Credit: College of Forestry, Wildlife and Tourism

Yes, animals play an essential role in maintaining the health of ecosystems and combating climate change.

Through processes like nutrient cycling, pest control, seed dispersal, and pollination, fauna provides vital services that benefit the environment.

Preserving biodiversity is key to enhancing ecological resilience and mitigating global warming.

Key Points

  • Animals aid in decomposition and nutrient cycling which stimulates plant growth.
  • Insects like bees are crucial pollinators that support biodiversity and food production.
  • Elephants, wolves, and other mammals regulate ecosystems, prevent overgrazing, and balance carbon cycles.

How Do Insects Like Bees Support Sustainable Agriculture?

Bees are essential pollinators that carry pollen between plants and support the growth of food crops.

One-third of our food relies on bee pollination.

Bees contribute over $217 billion to the global economy each year through their pollination services.

They play a key role in sustainable agriculture and help protect the environment.

The disappearance of bees would directly endanger food production, as many fruits and vegetables require insect pollination to grow.

Bee conservation is vital for supporting sustainable agriculture and our food supply.

Why Are Elephants Called Climate Change Warriors?

African forest elephants support biodiversity by dispersing seeds across their habitats.

Their dung also provides nutrients that enrich the soil.

By opening up dense forests, elephants shape the landscape to allow new plants to grow.

Their appetite even regulates tree growth to prevent excessive carbon storage.

Elephants are ecosystem engineers that maintain the grasslands.

Their extinction would remove important ecosystem services that benefit climate regulation.

That’s why elephants are deemed essential allies in the fight against climate change.

How Do Wolves Combat Global Warming?

Wolves play a significant role in maintaining ecosystem health.

As apex predators, they control populations of deer and elk.

This prevents overgrazing, which allows plant growth and carbon absorption.

Wolves also provide carrion that nourishes scavengers and soil.

Their presence supports biodiversity and balances ecosystems disrupted by climate change.

Protecting top predators like wolves promotes the regeneration of habitats and natural carbon capture.

Ultimately, wolves help cool the planet.

Why Does Biodiversity Matter for Climate Resilience?

A poster of lake ecosystem
Ecosystems are more resistant to environmental stressors and disruptions, such as natural catastrophes, when there is greater biological diversity. Ecosystems can respond to and recover from these problems more effectively when they are more diversified. Inage Credit: Weebly

Biodiversity strengthens an ecosystem’s resilience to climate change.

Varied species provide redundancy in their ecological roles.

If one species decline, others support the habitat.

Complex ecosystems with diverse organisms can better adapt to shifting conditions.

Preserving biodiversity hedges bets against future uncertainties.

Additionally, genetic diversity within species improves adaptability and survival.

Maintaining biodiversity boosts ecological integrity and ecosystem services vital to regulating climate.

How Do Animals Support the Nutrient Cycles?

Animals aid in decomposition and contribute to carbon and nitrogen cycles.

Their waste products help bring vital nutrients back into the soil and stimulate plant growth.

Ungulates like bison aerate the soil with their hooves.

Burrowing mammals’ tunnels increase water infiltration.

Ants help decompose organic material and cycle nutrients.

Earthworms enrich soils with their castings.

Birds distribute seeds and nutrients across habitats.

By moving resources and recycling nutrients, fauna sustains entire ecosystems.

Why Are Sea Otters Called Keystone Species?

Sea otters are keystone predators that control sea urchin populations, preventing the overgrazing of kelp forests.

The kelp sequesters massive amounts of carbon. It also provides food and shelter for many marine species.

Without sea otters, urchin populations would explode, denuding kelp forests and releasing stored carbon.

Their presence maintains the ecological balance of coastal ecosystems.

Protecting predators like sea otters is crucial for climate regulation and healthy oceans.

How Do Animals Support Ecosystem Services?

Animals provide humans with food, materials, labor, and enjoyment.

More importantly, they generate essential ecosystem services that benefit society.

Bats deliver pest control worth billions of dollars in avoided crop losses.

Salmon transport marine nutrients to terrestrial ecosystems when they migrate and spawn.

Dung beetles recycle livestock waste and boost soil health.

Coral reefs support fisheries and tourism.

Preserving wildlife sustains the ecosystem processes that purify our air and water, pollinate crops, regenerate soil, and sequester carbon.

Do Pets Help Combat Climate Change?

Responsible pet ownership can reduce environmental impact.

Adopting pets decreases the demand for unsustainable commercial breeding.

Feeding pets sustainably sourced diets like insects and lab-grown foods decreases agriculture pressures.

Pets motivate people to conserve nature and be better environmental stewards.

However, the overpopulation of pets causes ecological harm.

Ultimately, though pets do not directly affect climate change, advocating for animal welfare aligns with environmentalism’s ethos of respecting living beings.

Why Is Maintaining Biodiversity Critical?

Preserving global biodiversity is essential for mitigating and adapting to climate change.

Each organism has an ecological role in nutrient cycling, decomposition, pollination, and sustaining habitats.

Diverse species provide insurance against disruption if others decline.

Complex ecosystems with high biodiversity better withstand and recover from extreme weather.

Protecting nature safeguards animals while also benefiting humans through increased climate resilience.

As Aldo Leopold wrote, “To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering.”

How Do Ants Help the Environment?

Ants play several important roles in the environment.

As scavengers, ants help break down and recycle dead plant and animal material, converting it into nutrients that enrich the soil.

The nests and tunnels ants build aerate the soil and allow water, oxygen, and nutrients to better penetrate.

Ants help disperse seeds and pollinate some plants.

By spreading seeds, ants encourage plant growth and contribute to forest diversity.

Certain ant species will collect flower nectar and pollen, inadvertently pollinating plants in the process.

As predators, ants help control pest populations like flies, fleas, and caterpillars that can damage crops and spread disease.

At the same time, ants are prey for many birds, mammals, and reptiles.

All told, ants fill an essential niche in food chains and webs.

Are All Animals Important to the Environment?

All animals play some role in their ecosystems, though some species have bigger direct impacts than others.

Apex predators like wolves help balance food chains, while ecosystem engineers like beavers transform the physical landscape.

Other species may have smaller or more indirect roles that still contribute to the overall health of habitats.

However, it’s difficult to conclusively state whether any single species is “unimportant.”

Eliminating even creatures perceived as pests can have unintended consequences.

For example, when locusts were nearly eradicated in parts of Africa, losses in birds that fed on locust booms led to crop damage from unchecked rodents and grasshopper populations.

This illustrates the complex interconnectedness of ecosystems.

Biodiversity provides resilience and stability to habitats through redundancy.

So while not every species may appear critical, preserving a variety of life sustains ecosystems and allows them to withstand change pressures.

Even obscure species and those deemed unremarkable likely contribute somehow to ecosystem functioning.

Why Are Slugs Important to the Environment?

Though often seen as garden pests, slugs, and snails serve valuable roles in ecosystems.

As decomposers, they break down decaying plant material like leaf litter and dead wood, making nutrients available in the soil.

The moisture and microbial activity from their fecal pellets also contribute to healthy soil structure.

Slugs are an important food source for birds, small mammals like shrews, and insects such as ground beetles and fireflies.

As prey, they help sustain food chains and support higher-level consumers.

Slugs also aerate the soil and enhance water infiltration with their burrowing.

And certain species even pollinate plants.

While excessive slug populations can damage gardens, they are still an integral part of most terrestrial ecosystems.

As primarily decomposers and prey, slugs aid nutrient cycling, soil health, and the diets of predators and birds that help control pest insects.

Are Carnivores Important to the Environment?

Yes, carnivores such as lions, wolves, and grizzly bears play vital roles in maintaining ecosystem health as keystone species and apex predators.

By controlling herbivore populations, carnivores prevent overgrazing that could lead to soil erosion and loss of vegetation.

Scavenging carnivores like hyenas recycle carrion biomass back into food chains.

Large carnivores also disperse seeds in their scat, supporting plant growth.

When carnivores decline, mesopredator release of mid-sized predators can decrease small mammal and bird diversity.

By regulating prey numbers, carnivores indirectly increase plant biomass and carbon absorption from the atmosphere.

Predation shapes animal communities and maintains biodiversity.

Humans have contributed to large carnivore declines, with negative ripple effects on ecosystems.

Protecting top predators helps sustain ecological integrity.

How Does Saving Nature Help People?

Preserving ecosystems provides many direct and indirect benefits for humans.

Natural areas filter water, limit flood damage, and sequester carbon to regulate climate.

Forests absorb air pollution and supply timber, medicines, and food.

Coral reefs buffer shorelines and support fisheries. Wild bees pollinate crops.

Contact with nature improves mental health and reduces aggression.

Conserved green spaces increase nearby property values and promote economic growth through recreation.

Diverse ecosystems model the collaborative communities humans aspire to build. Wildlife inspires art, technology, and science.

By sustaining all life on Earth, conserving nature ultimately uplifts humanity.


In summary, animals help combat climate change by supporting ecosystems, cycling nutrients, dispersing seeds, pollinating plants, and providing pest control.

Preserving biodiversity enhances ecological resilience while sequestering more carbon.

The intricate connections between organisms underscore the need for holistic conservation.

Saving wildlife ultimately helps save the climate and environment.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do Home Gardens Attract Helpful Wildlife?

Providing water sources, nesting spots, and native plants that supply food and shelter encourages beneficial wildlife to visit home gardens. Avoid pesticides that could poison animals. Let dead plant material decompose naturally to nourish invertebrates. Diversity is key for supporting many species.

What Animals Are Most Threatened By Habitat Loss?

Habitat loss threatens 85% of the world’s endangered species. Amphibians and island species with small ranges suffer especially due to development encroaching on their limited ecosystems. Protecting habitat corridors that connect fragments can help isolated animal populations.

Why Is Biodiversity Declining Globally?

The main drivers of biodiversity loss are habitat destruction, overexploitation, pollution, invasive species, and climate change. Unfortunately, extinction rates are 100-1000x higher than natural background levels. Preserving diverse ecosystems requires addressing these human-caused pressures.

At GreenChiCafe, we are passionate about our amazing planet and protecting the natural world. Please check out our website for more content on preserving biodiversity, combating climate change, and living sustainably.

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