The Mutualistic Interactions between Arid Zone Plants and Animals
Such birds as drongo, vultures, crow, mynas and owls prefer to build their nests on P. cineraria, babblers and bulbuls prefer either Zizyphus or Capparis for this purpose, whereas doves build nests mainly on Zizyphus, and white- throated munias build on Capparis. Ground birds (e.g., partridge, peafowl) make their nests in thickets of bushes of Zizyphus and Prosopis and such mammals as jackal, cat, mongoose, hare and gazelle build their burrows beneath similar thickets of Maytenus, Capparis and Zizyphus.
A few ways in which plants derive benefits from animals are exemplified below. Animals benefit plants by aiding their pollination, seed dispersal, and by providing dung and manure, etc.
Nectarinia asiatica (sunbird) is the chief pollinating agent for Calotropis, Capparis, Tecomella, and P. cineraria; honeybee mainly pollinates P. cineraria, Maytenus, Salvadora, etc., and various butterflies pollinate Lycium, Tephrosia, Crotalaria and others.
Deers, hares, geibils, squirrels and certain birds are involved in seed dispersal-of various desert plants. In most cases these animals eat fleshy fruits and disperse the seeds, but in the case of Cenchrus spp., mechanical adhesion is the cause of dispersal.
Burrowing animals enrich the fertility of soil by their droppings and excreta, etc., and the nutrients so released are absorbed by plant roots.
In some cases, animal burrows promote plant growth by aeration of the otherwise hard soil. Underground burrows are a good source of air in the root zone.