"Opportunists in steady-state woodland systems"

As pioneer species, one of the important functions which birch trees fulfil in ecosystems is that of improving soils. They are deep-rooted, and their roots draw up nutrients into their branches and leaves, which the trees use for their growth. 

The roots of birch trees have mycorrhizal associations with various species of fungi. In these mutualistic or symbiotic relationships between trees and fungi, both partners in the association benefit from their interactions.

A number of different flowers are associated with birchwoods, including primroses and violets which flower in early spring, before the trees' new leaves limit the light reaching the forest floor.

Birches support a large community of insects and other invertebrates, with 334 species known to feed on them - more than any other trees native to Scotland, except for oaks and willows. The invertebrates in turn are food for various bird species, whilst other birds feed on the seeds in autumn.

Now, however, with all the regeneration measures initiated, birchwoods are once again expanding. This means that not only are these trees recovering more of their former territory, but also that all the species which depend on them have an opportunity to flourish once more in greater numbers.

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