Casuarius casuarius, aka Cassowary, is a flightless bird that lives in Australia and Papua New Guinea. It is a conspicuous creatures with a brightly colored head and distinct crest. This crest is used as a natural machete, chopping and crushing vegetation as the Cassowary makes its way through dense rainforest. As the cassowary runs through forests it also disperses seeds. How does it disperse seeds? Well through its poop of course! The Cassowary ingests fruits, can’t digest the seeds, and so poops out the seeds across its home-range in the rainforest. This dispersal process is important for the maintenance of diverse and varied rainforest vegetation. Without the Cassowary, dispersal of large seeds would be reduced, and the composition of the rainforest could change over time. Ultimately, the cassowary plays an important role in maintenance of a diverse rainforest through both space and time.
Haiku and photo: Steph Januchowski-Hartley