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24/7 Lecture: Forest communities

Posted on Tuesday, March 31, 2020 by for 24/7 Lecture.

24 seconds: Though one would not necessarily associate the word "community" with trees, there is strong evidence to suggest a lively community exists within the world of trees. Unlike humans who communicate through senses, trees communicate through fungal networks that interconnect with their roots. These networks allow trees to send food, water, and distress signals to other trees. If an insect starts eating the leaves of a tree, the tree slowly kicks into survival mode, releasing toxins to make the leaves bitter and sending signals through the fungal networks to nearby trees to do the same. The fungi even find sources of mineral nutrients in the soil for the tree to consume. However, the relationship between trees and fungi is not one-sided. The fungi demands the trees share the sugar it creates through photosynthesis. The fungal network is crucial to enabling the Wood Wide Web, as it transports these daily conversations throughout the forest. This healthy exchange is shown to increase the resilience of the forest as a whole.

7 words: Diverse forests are better at weathering storms.

Suraiya Knoja (Class of 2020)

Looking out the rear window of a car at a forest