Steve Backshall reveals the incredible influence that insects and their close relatives have on Earth's many ecosystems. In the grasslands of South America the landscape has been created almost solely by one team of insects - grass-cutter ants. Across the world's oceans one tiny creature plays such a key role that, without it, the largest animal on our planet, the blue whale, could not exist. And in East Africa the savannah would quickly be swamped in dung were it not for the activities of a certain beetle. Yet the greatest influence of all comes from a group of insects that have ultimately changed the colour and diversity of our planet.
In a revelatory look at Svalbard, the most northerly region in the series, Steve Backshall leaves no stone unturned as he unravels the secrets that lie covered in ice for most of each year. Svalbard is cold, dark and foreboding, yet it is home to the world's largest land predator and the most northerly population of large herbivore, but Steve discovers that the real secret to this place comes from a very different world.
Aerial predators like owls, falcons, and eagles have keen senses that allow them to see and hear things that would normally go unnoticed by other species. Fly alongside these magnificent raptors at the Canadian Raptor Conservancy in Ontario as they showcase the full range of their hunting abilities.
Is it possible that plants are smarter than we think? They are among the world's oldest and most successful organisms and represent some of the strangest and longest living life forms on the planet. Stunningly diverse, plants have served us in many critical ways, from providing food, shelter and clothing to life-saving medicine. And yet we know very little about them. A luscious exploration of the natural world, Smarty Plants effortlessly integrates pioneering science with a light hearted look at how plants behave, revealing a world where plants are as busy, responsive and complex as we are. From the stunning heights of Utah's Great Basin Desert to the rainforests of Canada's west coast, Smarty Plants follows lead scientist and ecologist JC Cahill as he treks the green world and discovers that plants are a lot more like animals than we ever imagined. The world he reveals is one where plants eavesdrop on each other, talk to their enemies, call in insect allies to fight those enemies, recognize their relatives and nurture their young.
The Comb-crested Jacanas are unique birds that use their long toes to walk delicately across lotus leaves and catch underwater prey. This episode, filmed between the rainy season and dry season in Kakadu, follows a father bird raising his chicks through their dramatic and difficult first year.
Vultures are the birds that many people love to hate, but cameraman and naturalist Charlie Hamilton James sees them as beautiful and intelligent creatures that deserve respect. He believes that to appreciate them, people just need to spend time with them and he headed to East Africa to do exactly that. His journey exposes not only a softer, more caring side to these maligned birds but also a much bigger story, one that leaves vultures needing many more admirers.