How Much Would You Pay for Value of an Earthworm and a Bee in Nature’s Bio-systems?
“And when you don’t understand how webs connect; or how roots make leaves; or how the food web is many links that can’t be broken; when you lack empathy for the most ordinary creature, the worm or the bee, you become disconnected and pay the price one way of another, too often with disorder and disease.” Excerpt from Ecological Succession of Birchum Birch
One of the main values of Nature’s bio-system is CHANGE. Parts are always connecting, moving and adapting. The cycle of birth, growth, maturity, death, and rebirth is nature’s way through seasons of growth and dormancy. It is never about instant delivery or gratification.
A benefactor is defined as “someone or something that provides help, an advantage or a benefit without expecting something in return.” When looking at all powerful Nature, two benefactors stand out without which, Nature would lose its organization and play a losing game … the earthworms and the bees. Their functions and values to Nature’s bio-system must be respected as the roles of real heroes.
The cycles of Nature’s ecosystem works in four integrated parts: 1. nonliving factors (sun, water, air) 2. Plants (photosynthesis) 3. Consumers (animals and humans) 4. Decomposers or Recyclers
Nature’s decomposition begins with dead organic plant matter decaying or breaking down into its original elements such as nitrogen, sulfur, calcium, potassium, iron and more. These minerals can then be absorbed by root hairs to continue growth of new branches, buds, leaves and flowers.
Decomposition depends on a host of microorganisms, bacteria, fungi and protozoa to partially eat and soften the leaves so that other soil mites and insects like the sow bugs, silverfish or daddy long legs can continue to digest and release the minerals.
Here is where the earthworm earns his championship role in fertile decomposition!
- swallows large quantities of soil, mixes it with mucus as it passes through his gut to extrude as a casting at the end. His burrow may have two entrances and several vertical and horizontal tunnels.
- makes castings that are rich in phosphorous, nitrogen, iron, sulfur, calcium, nitrogen, and potassium for roots’ absorption
- helps to loosen and aerates soil with oxygen, improves water storage and drainage, and helps stronger roots to access deeper nutrients through his tunnels
In fact, earthworms lose as much as a fifth of their body weight producing casts every day so they need moist soils to replenish themselves.
So, here is how the earthworm connects to the life cycle of a plant and a bee.
The seed, containing the embryo, has germinated and sprouted, grown into a plant with flowers needed for its fruit development in order to produce more seeds. The flowers in their radiant, aromatic beauty have one biological function to reproduce by uniting sperms (pollen grains from male anther) with eggs (female stigma). When fertilization happens, seeds can be produced within a fruit or vegetable body whose function is to protect the seeds inside until seed dispersal.
The best flower pollinators or fertilizers are the bees who spend most of their lives collecting pollen (source of protein) or nectar (energy source) to feed their offspring. In fact, during one foraging trip, a single honeybee can visit between 50 to 100 flowers; and to create one pound of honey, the bees must visit two million flowers.
Recently, there have been many reports about the declining population of honeybees. If honeybees disappear, then flowers cannot be pollinated or fertilized, and will not produce fruit or bear seed for future generations. The lack of fresh fruit and vegetables would be devastating to humans.
Interestingly, a recent report in the New York Times noted the dilemma that earthworms may be another factor that can affect the carbon balance in climate change because as they feed, “they release into the atmosphere much of the carbon stored in the forest floor,” turning the forests’ carbon sponge into a “carbon spout.”
Another Science Daily report said that there is a “systematic decline” in the earthworm population in the soil after continued digging, stirring and overturning by conventional ploughing in tillage farming. To restore the earthworm population would take 10 years to show good signs of recovery.
Either way, Earth’s ecology runs its course on several defined principles.
Earth’s bio-systems are based on synergy which means working together with different parts to make a creation or value of a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.
Without connections, Nature will fail with poor dirt, no earthworms, no flowers and no bees.
Perhaps, it’s time to give a voice to Nature’s heroes.
Jeeg (ecological character)explained, “The earthworm is amazing with all the work he can do to make sure that humus is well ventilated and nutrient rich. He breathes through his skin. He has five hearts with top and bottom nerve fibers. Did you know he secretes calcium and has a gizzard that can digest leaves and minerals? He is mostly all gut, all rings with the widest band near the front. If he is split in two, new rings will regrow. He loves to humus which passes through his gut.
Fortunately, he can mate with another earthworm who lays eggs inside a cocoon which hatch in about three weeks as teeny tiny wormlets smaller than pins.”
Excerpt: Ecological Succession of Birchum Birch … a love story about family, community and environment in nature