The value of Mistletoe

To: "'Jenny Stiles'" <>, <>
Subject: The value of Mistletoe
From: "Philip Veerman" <>
Date: Wed, 14 Aug 2013 22:35:44 +1000
He gave a talk to Canberra Ornithologists Group (COG) about this, this
evening. Or more of a worldwide perspective on the various mistletoes and
the particular arrangement that birds and other fauna have with them and
that it is not really the specialist feeders that are helping the mistletoe,
as much as the generalists. I have just come home from the meeting. All very
interesting and well presented ideas.


-----Original Message-----
 On Behalf Of Jenny Stiles
Sent: Wednesday, 14 August 2013 4:30 PM
Subject: The value of Mistletoe

Hi List,
I came across a very interesting article about the value of mistletoe in the
Australian bush in New Scientist 22/29 December 2012 pages 70-71. The study
was investigating whether or not mistletoe's reputation as a destructive
pest was deserved and was carried out by David Watson, an Ecologist at
Charles Sturt University in Albury, NSW. Their findings were that mistletoe
was immensely beneficial to the entire forest. Mistletoe, as it is always
able to get water from its host [unless that dies], is a reliable source of
food and shelter for birds and insects, as well as providing cover and
shelter for small birds and mammals. The study also found that only minimal
harm was done to the host tree. 

To study the benefits [or otherwise of mistletoe] it was removed from entire
woodlands after surveys were performed [5500 clumps of mainly Box Mistletoe
from 17 large patches of woodland in south-east New South Wales. After three
years they surveyed these woodlands again to see the effect of mistletoe
removal. More than a third of woodland birds had vanished from these areas &
not just the obvious mistletoe users. The biggest declines were in the
ground feeding insectivores; the rich leaf litter formed under the mistletoe
is richer and deeper than elsewhere [because mistletoe does not withdraw
nutrients from its leaves before dropping them] and contains more soil
microbes and invertebrates than non-mistletoe leaf litter. They also found
that the variety provided by the Mistletoe itself, its leaf litter and
thinner leaf litter under non-mistletoe bearing trees provided the greatest
variety of habitats and therefore more species co-existed in these areas
than forests without mistletoe.

So according to this study, mistletoe should be seen as a saviour rather
than a scourge.

I was unaware of the beneficial results of mistletoe and thought others
might find the results of this study interesting.

>From Jenny Stiles


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