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Forest Life

Ottobre 2017
Le meraviglie della natura: non solo boschi incantati ma anche il ciclo della vita. Cosa succede alle foglie quando cadono dagli alberi? Diventano cibo, ma non per tutti: anche animali e vegetali hanno preferenze sul menù!

di François-Xavier Joly © British Council

File audio:

Speaker: Alex Warner (Standard British accent)

Forests are amazing places, and so are the animals that live in them. We enjoy watching television programmes about bears, bats or monkeys. We know a lot about their lives: how they find food or what they do at different times of the year. But what about smaller animals that are more difficult to see or film?

The importance of leaves

Many small animals that live in forests are very important for the soil. A French scientist, Francois-Xavier Joly, is studying one of them – the millipede.
When the leaves begin to die in autumn, they turn from green to yellow and fall from the trees. As they decompose on the ground, nutrients are returned to the soil and carbon dioxide to the air. Life in the forest needs these nutrients – without them, plants could not grow and so there would be no food for other animals.

Food on the forest floor

Some living things, like mushrooms, break the leaves into smaller pieces and eat them. In a few months there is nothing left of them. But for mushrooms, not all trees are the same. Mushrooms prefer some types of leaves to others. This means that some leaves take much longer to decompose than others, sometimes years. So what happens to these? This is where the millipede can help.

More on the menu

The millipede also likes leaves and it eats any type. But when it has finished, it produces waste. This waste then becomes the food of mushrooms. When mushrooms eat leaves they choose only certain types – but when they eat waste, they will eat any kind. This is how the millipede turns dead leaves into food for others and helps life continue.
So next time you are walking through a forest, remember that something may be having a meal right under your feet! 

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What about smaller animals? Che dire degli animali più piccoli? “What about” traduce l’italiano “che dire?”, “cosa ne pensi?” Per esempio: For tonight, what about pizza? (Per stasera, che ne dici di una pizza?); This weekend, I can’t, what about the next one? (Questo weekend non posso, che ne dici del prossimo?).