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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Wood Wide Web

Wood Wide Web

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Thursday, November 8, 2018/Categories: natural history, wildlife conservation, sustainability, environment

                                   Trees Communicate Within an Ecosystem (credit: Wood Wide Web)

Biological field and laboratory research continues uncovering unrecognized connections within forests. From alerting other trees of insect attack; providing nutrients to help saplings survive; to fighting for space with other trees; and to draw  pollinators in from afar, trees use chemical signals to accomplish these tasks and more. Trees are now appearing to have "a secret life" previously unbeknownst within a forest.

In the discovery of these new ecosystem connections, almost like the brain's network of nerve synapse, trees show how they protect themselves, produce favorable conditions for their establishment; and fight "wars" with other plants using a means of communication (allelopathy).

The "key" to understanding the mode of these plant communications is a symbiotic relationship between a tree's root system and various fungi called a mycorrhiza (from the Greek, mykós (fungus) and riza (roots)). The new ecological findings offer many practical applications. This includes restoration of damaged landscapes to uses in agroecology where ecological principals are applied to organic agricultural production rather than petrochemical applications.

BBC News has taken some of this new understanding of trees and used clever animation to explain some of the research.

So, when you walk through an old forest again, realize you're in the presence of a 'superorganism' of trees, a virtual 'wood wide web'. This may be one of the most vital pieces of biological knowledge to have been revealed.



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