In Arctic Alaska, foxes are not just unbelievably cute, they also make for good gardeners. By digging their dens, which they use to hide their offspring from freezing weather and predators, and living in them, “these animals are fertilizing and basically growing a garden,” says Brian Person, a wildlife biologist for the North Slope Borough in Barrow, Alaska.


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How do they do that? Well, some of the litters can include as much as 16 cubs, so “foxes deposit high amounts of nutrients in and around their dens, a combination of urination, defecation, and leftover kills.” The result? Vibrant diamondleaf willows and yellow wildflowers pop up from their dens, coloring the otherwise gray landscape. Such dens occur throughout the Arctic and they not only make the Arctic more beautiful, they also boost the environment by creating a greater plant diversity from which herbivores can benefit during short summers. The foxes are doing such a great job, they’ve even been dubbed “ecosystem engineers.”

More info: nature.com (h/t: nationalgeographic)

 

In Arctic Alaska, foxes are not just unbelievably cute, they also make for good gardeners

By digging their dens, “these animals are fertilizing and basically growing a garden”

Some of the litters can include as much as 16 cubs, so “foxes deposit high amounts of nutrients in and around their dens”

The result? Vibrant flowers pop up from their dens, coloring the otherwise gray landscape

The foxes are doing such a great job, they’ve even been dubbed “ecosystem engineers”