Episode 6: Where Do All the Leaves Go?

This week we ask the question: If nobody rakes up leaves in the forest, why isn’t the forest just a giant pile of leaves? The simple answer is that leaves decompose, but there is so much more to it than that. A whole host of organisms, from big ground beetles and fat earthworms to microscopic bacteria and fungi, are involved in the process, and each one of them has their role to play in breaking down dead stuff. In fact, leaves are broken down so completely that the nutrients found within them will again be made available for the trees that dropped them.

via wikimedia commons

To help us appreciate just how fascinating this whole process is, Casey paints us a picture of the dramatic events that can happen in a pile of leaves: creatures eating other creatures, creatures eating the poo of other creatures, etc. It’s a bit of a horror show, but it gets the job done.

See the process in action here:

See also: this message from the National Wildlife Federation about leaving leaves for wildlife.


This episode aired on Radio Boise from March 19 – March 25, 2018, and featured music by Toy Zoo.

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