When you’re thinking of picking out a favorite vegetable or fruit, it might be time to start thinking about the roots of the crop.
Squirrels are often associated with berries, but they’re also a keystone in the vegetable industry.
And according to researchers at the University of Maryland, squirrels have a big role to play in producing broccoli, peas, carrots and potatoes.
The researchers conducted an extensive study that included a survey of thousands of squirrels across North America, Europe and Asia, and they found that squirrels produce more than 50% of the world’s vegetables.
“Squirrels are among the world leader species of vegetable production, with a much larger number of species producing vegetables than any other land animal,” the researchers wrote in their report.
The study found that the wild populations of the squirrels can grow up to 30% larger than the populations of domestic chickens.
“There are some wild squirrels that are larger than domestic chicken,” said Andrew Purdy, a research scientist at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
Purdy and his colleagues have been studying the animals for years, and now they’ve found that their large populations have played a major role in the evolution of the food chain.
“We have been surprised at the diversity of wild squirrel populations that we have seen,” he said.
“It’s really interesting to look at how much diversity there is and how much we have evolved to do with it.”
The researchers discovered that the squirrel population is much larger in North America and Europe than it is in Asia.
They found that in Europe, there are as many as 1,200 squirrels per square kilometer.
In the United States, there’s only about 10.
“The number of squirrel populations in the United Kingdom is much lower, and it’s very small in terms of its size,” Purdy said.
Squirrel populations in North and South America were also higher than those in Europe.
“North American populations are much more diversified than European populations,” Pooty said.
In addition, there was a clear link between the size of the population and the size and diversity of its ecosystem.
The more diverse an ecosystem is, the more food is available for animals that can eat it.
This explains why the squirrel populations are so much larger than those of chickens, Purdy explained.
“When there are lots of wild populations, you have a very low barrier to entry for predators,” Pootsy said, meaning that there’s less of a chance of predators coming and eating a species.
“This is why squirrels do so well.”
Purdy added that the large squirrel populations may also be a result of the fact that they’re protected under the Endangered Species Act.
“In the wild, the numbers of predators are so low, they’re more vulnerable,” he explained.
The squirrels of the U.S. can grow to nearly a foot in length, which is considered “super large,” and Purdy hopes that this will translate to more species in the future.
The results of the study are being published in the journal Nature Communications.
“What’s interesting about the results is that we are seeing a large range in the population of wild and domestic squirrels,” Puddys said.
It’s also possible that the populations are responding to habitat loss.
“Some areas of the North American landscape are becoming very degraded, but there are also places where wild squirrel numbers are increasing,” Purdy said in an email.
“These results also suggest that, for some populations, the ecosystem is responding to environmental changes in an adaptive manner, and we are working to understand why.”
It’s a long road ahead for the squirrel, Purdies said.
He said that the goal is to find ways to increase the squirrel’s numbers in the wild so that they can continue to grow in the meantime.
“Our goal is really to get the populations to the point where they can produce enough food to feed their young,” Poddy said of the wild squirrel population.
“Hopefully that will be in the next few years.”