Trees Talk to Each Other

The fascinating research of Suzanne Simard

From Tree to Shining Tree

Jan 15, 2017 | Studio Notebook, Work in Progress

Several years ago I read the book The Hidden Forest by Jon Luoma, piquing my interest in the interconnectivity of trees in healthy forests. Trees talk to each other using fungal mats called mycorrhizal networks. I have been fascinated with the idea since. Unfortunately, there isn’t anyone at the HJ Andrews Experimental Forest that is currently studying this. Because of that, I did not pursue this idea in any of my own work. However today I stumbled upon Suzanne Simard‘s  2016 TED Talk, “How Trees Talk to Each Other,” and the July 30, 2016 episode of Radiolab “From Tree to Shining Tree.” Check out both below. It may be time to start to investigate this idea further.

Radiolab:

A forest can feel like a place of great stillness and quiet. But if you dig a little deeper, there’s a hidden world beneath your feet as busy and complicated as a city at rush hour.

In this story, a dog introduces us to a strange creature that burrows beneath forests, building an underground network where deals are made and lives are saved (and lost) in a complex web of friendships, rivalries, and business relations. It’s a network that scientists are only just beginning to untangle and map, and it’s not only turning our understanding of forests upside down, it’s leading some researchers to rethink what it means to be intelligent.

TED:

“A forest is much more than what you see,” says ecologist Suzanne Simard. Her 30 years of research in Canadian forests have led to an astounding discovery — trees talk, often and over vast distances. Learn more about the harmonious yet complicated social lives of trees and prepare to see the natural world with new eyes.

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