Thursday, 1 April 2010

Tree Fall

The most common threat living in a rainforest is not being eaten by leeches or constricted by monstrous snake but being hit by fall vegetation. There are some real widow-makers up there. Dead branches falling from great heights can impale and decapitate. Clumps of basket ferns (Drynaria species) often fall under their great weight when wet.

We had one such incident this wet season. A huge dead tree had a massive overhanging branch laden with fern epiphytes and a tangle of vines. One night it came crashing to the ground. It would have weighed tonnes. It did no damage to buildings but did open the forest a bit. It will be instructive to watch what develops in the open patch created by the crash.

Disaster Zone. After the fall.

Broken trees, crushed vegetation, lives disrupted. But this is just what the doctor ordered for many other insects and plants. I expect to see many wood-boring beetles and wasps once the weather warms up. Butterflies will alight in the sunshine on the vines and lay their eggs on regrowth.

The culprit. The tree snapped off leaving a large hollow and providing tonnes of dead wood on the ground for fungi, insects and crustacea to recycle into the system.

This hollow has created an opportunity for one or more creatures to use as a temporary shelter. Kookaburras, not normally seen in our rainforest, have already looked over the real estate.

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