Thursday, 7 November 2013

Giant Armadillos found to be ecosystem engineer

November 2013: A South American project into the little-known giant armadillo has unearthed the mysterious creature’s role as ecosystem engineers, giving housing and shelter to others.

The species is so enigmatic that the first ever photograph of one was taken just two years ago, with an automated camera trap capturing the first giant armadillo young earlier this year.

Researchers led by Dr Arnaud Desbiez, the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland’s regional coordinator for Latin America, have now discovered the armadillos dig deep burrows which provide new habitats and resources for many other animals. Camera traps in the Brazilian Pantanal have photographed at least 24 different species using their burrows as either a thermal refuge, shelter against predators, feeding ground or resting spot.

Dr Desbiez said: “It’s amazing to see such a secretive species which occurs at such low densities can play such an important role within the ecological community.”

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