Decaying Log as Habitat
A decaying log is vital to a forest in that it provides diverse habitats for large and small animals alike. An ongoing long term ecological study in Tasmania has shown that decaying logs of varies diameters and sizes can greatly improve the longitudinal and vertical diversity of forest.
Out of all types of animals, birds benefits the most from decaying logs that are still standing, or snags. They use these decaying logs for perching, foraging, and nesting. According to Melissa J. Santiago and Amanda D. Rodewald, Ph.D. of the School of Natural Resources, in Ohio State University, there are 55 bird species that depending on these dead logs as food sources and nesting grounds. These birds are further separated into one of these three categories, primary excavators, secondary excavators, and weak excavators.
Primary excavators are the birds, usually with hard and long beaks that will allow them to excavate from hardwoods, such as eastern hemlocks. Secondary excavators can only excavate from softwoods, such as sugar maple. Weak excavators have small and weak peaks that cannot excavate from woods; therefore, they utilize existing cavities for foraging.
This is just one small example of how decaying log is vital to a forest. There are many more examples in amphibians, invertebrates, mammals and reptiles.