Below The Forest

Jul 19 2011 @ 8:57am

Shannon-wright-network

Dr. Suzanne Simard explains how mycorrhizal networks connect the roots of trees:

[Graduate student Kevin Beiler] has found that all trees in dry interior Douglas-fir forests are interconnected, with the largest, oldest trees serving as hubs, much like the hub of a spoked wheel, where younger trees establish within the mycorrhizal network of the old trees. Through careful experimentation, recent graduate Francois Teste determined that survival of these establishing trees was greatly enhanced when they were linked into the network of the old trees. Through the use of stable isotope tracers, he and Amanda Schoonmaker […] found that increased survival was associated with belowground transfer of carbon, nitrogen and water from the old trees.

(Hat tip: Kirstin Butler)