The Strangler Fig is considered a "keystone" tree and necessary in the tropical hardwood ecosystem. It begins its life as an epiphyte or "air plant" on the crown of a tree. It grows downward seeking a dependable source for root uptake of nutrients at ground level and develops its own underground root system that eventually completely entwines its roots and trunk around a host tree. The fig's crown grows foliage which soon overshadows the tree. Eventually, the host tree is "strangled" and dies, leaving the fig with a hollow trunk where the host used to be. The fig then takes advantage of the nutrients produced by the rotting host. The hollow trunk, with an abundance of nooks and crannies, provides home to thousands of invertebrates, rodents, bats, reptiles, amphibians, and birds.