I was unfamiliar with how mycorrhizal networks connect the roots of trees, facilitating the sharing of resources. Dr. Suzanne Simard writes:
Graduate student Kevin Beiler has uncovered the extent and architecture of this network through the use of new molecular tools that can distinguish the DNA of one fungal individual from another, or of one tree’s roots from another. He has found that all trees in dry interior Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii var. glauca) 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, a recent undergraduate student in Forestry, found that increased survival was associated with belowground transfer of carbon, nitrogen and water from the old trees. This research provides strong evidence that maintaining forest resilience is dependent on conserving mycorrhizal links, and that removal of hub trees could unravel the network and compromise regenerative capacity of the forests.
Love this representation by Beiler of one of these networks:
Serendipity alert: I just finished reading John Vaillant’s The Golden Spruce, a remarkable story combining bizarre psychology, ecology and history. Dr. Simard figures in the book briefly (as she worked with Grant Hadwin when she was a student). There is a propagated genetic copy of the destroyed spruce at UBC’s Botanical Garden. Daniel Mosquin has a photo and write-up on the wonderful blog that he has maintained for the Botanical Garden for years now.
166 thoughts on “Do trees communicate? Networks, networks…”
Great, so they are also into hypo-media? (sorry, couldnt resist).
Speaking of which, do you have any examples of narrative network analysis (i.e. networks of narrative ‘bits’), and how they make sense in a network of associations. I am working on ‘nested narratives’, and am keen to try out some ideas in this area.
Roy – need I demand an apology for “nested narratives” as well?
I don’t think I can be of much assistance, though that sounds like a very cool direction… I’ll be reading and clicking.
Do you know by any chance whether any researchers specifically have been looking into the parallels between neural networks and mycorrhizal networks? I’d be interested in doing research in that field myself… or at least look into it more deeply.
there are many studies that discuss commonalities in the network architectures of complex systems, but as far as I know none comparing mycorrhizal and neural networks per se. The work of Albert-László Barabási is a good place to start.
Brian, thanks for sharing this!
thanks for your comment! Apparently Prof. Simard herself might publish a new article on complex systems herself soon…
Very off topic: wouldn’t it be possible to construct an algorithm to compare the proportions of neurons and trees (and the number of nodes where each one branches off into dendrites/branches)? I often think both of them (trees and neurons) look so similar that it can’t be coincidental… maybe a stupid idea but hey… just curious what you’re thinking about this.
Do trees communicate? Networks, networks… | Abject http://ht.ly/5Fz2f
Networking…in trees? http://t.co/MdTq0yg thanks to: @andrew_zolli
Trees and Networks: Going Deep to Communicate http://t.co/AX3ZYOc
I think I watched a documentary about this, and there are Hobbits that often ride atop these trees as well, right?
Jim… I am one with the great tree, Luna. Laugh if you will, and I know you will… and the industrial world laughs with you… but know that the remnants and ghostly traces of the consumed forest envelop us all in its own all-consuming embrace.
Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.
I left an innocent comment, and now I am scared. What have I done?! I angered Luna the tree god.
What we can learn about networking from trees, http://bit.ly/q7B8Y6
Do trees communicate? Networks, networks… | Abject http://ow.ly/5GmlP
Do trees communicate? Networks, networks… | Abject http://ow.ly/5GmlU
Must see/read RT @andrew_zolli: The Social Life of Trees … amazing root networks under forest floor http://t.co/6X5GSoy (via @ValdisKrebs)
how mycorrhizal networks connect the roots of trees, facilitating the sharing of resources http://bit.ly/q7B8Y6
awesome! “@TylerGreenDC:…In a forest, trees don’t stand alone. They’re networked to other trees. http://t.co/kauxPrx”
Was geht da ab zwischen Bäumen? 😉 Do trees communicate? Networks, networks… http://abject.ca/do-trees-communicate/
Do trees communicate? Networks, networks… http://j.mp/nQhTtV
In support of Stamets’ assertion that mycorrhiza is the "original Internet": http://t.co/zBAWlYz
Supervivencia de árboles jóvenes y resiliencia de bosques depende de la permanencia de los árboles adultos y micorrizas http://ow.ly/5Lcz4
Do trees communicate? Networks, networks…http://bit.ly/oRu2LE
Not just for The Lord of the Rings: Do trees communicate? http://j.mp/paTO8T #fb
Read it and enjoy! I did! 🙂 http://abject.ca/do-trees-communicate/ @toughLoveforx
@NewsNeus you find goood stuff.. http://t.co/4wPEDVI 🙂 Hey @ddrrnt take a look at the picture… nemiTubes all around..
This is great research that, oddly enough, is relevant to a video game design I’ve been working on for years.
Do trees communicate? Network and resource sharing among Douglas Fir. http://su.pr/643fLZ
Do trees communicate? http://abject.ca/do-trees-communicate/
Here’s a new take on networking…….do trees communicate for their own survival? http://fb.me/18dDKvKvh
Hey, everything she said could have come from the sci-fi movie “Avatar.” 500-year-old Mother trees thinking with their heritage, until the nasty humans obliterate that heritage by clearcutting & environmental degradation. Cool.
Do #trees communicate? http://bit.ly/r86LAF #green
Watch this, and the forest will seem different on your next hike. RT @webbmedia RT @hari: Do #trees communicate? http://t.co/BxGyNku #green
Douglas fir trees are networked via “mycorrhizal networks.” http://t.co/1tXjZFL (thanks @triciawang) cc. @openworld – biosemiotics, Y/N?
“Do trees communicate? Networks, networks…” on mycorrhizal networks in forests: http://bit.ly/qQ0G9c #awesome
Wisdom in the trees: RT @wired: Douglas fir trees network through their root systems, share resources: http://bit.ly/q7B8Y6
Cool indeed! RT @wired: Super cool: Douglas fir trees network through their root systems, share resources. http://bit.ly/q7B8Y6
Thanks to following @golan,l learned that trees communicate via fungus, using the oldest in the ‘social’ network as hubs http://t.co/v8KDcBj
It turns out trees form communication networks, just like in Avatar. The oldest serve as hubs http://t.co/igEeeOA #digc202 [via@bruces]
“@wired: Super cool: Douglas fir trees network through their root systems, share resources.http://t.co/aCY2oEL” @DanielleM712 hmmmmm
MESHnetwork RT @silvertje: RT @golan: It turns out the trees are all connected, The oldest serve as hubs http://t.co/igEeeOA /RT @160B
Trees communicate in similar fashion to computer networks, with old trees serving as hubs: http://ow.ly/5SKRG
Trees communicate in similar fashion to computer networks, with old trees serving as hubs: http://ow.ly/5SKWf
Social Networking for trees. Douglas fir trees network through their root systems, share resources.http://bit.ly/q7B8Y6 (via @Chrysaora)
Hur träd och svampar nätverkar via symbios http://t.co/dJ0U7iF
Want your mind to be blown?? “@wired: Super cool: Douglas fir trees network through their root systems, share resources.http://t.co/Paa2bHQ
"forest resilience depends on links and removal of hub trees compromise regenerative capacity of the forests." http://tinyurl.com/6yy29vn
Networks!“@golan: It turns out the trees are all connected, er, just like in Avatar. The oldest serve as hubs http://t.co/i8w8QHM /RT @160B”
@joerogan looks like James Cameron & movie Avatar is closer to real life then we might thought! http://bit.ly/oBwqGC
Påvist organisk nettverk hos furutrær.
“Douglas fir trees #network through their #root systems, share resources.http://t.co/f6SXJmw (@Wired)
It turns out the trees are all connected. Do trees communicate? Networks, networks… http://bit.ly/q7B8Y6 (via @golan)
#GOT Greenseeing 🙂 RT @160B Douglas-fir #network: all trees r interconnected with the oldest, serving as hubs http://bit.ly/q7B8Y6 /@wired
Do trees communicate? Networks, networks… http://t.co/PQsyAgB (via @summify from @Chrysaora, and @kn0thing)
Do trees communicate? Networks, networks… http://t.co/M3qCKIh
I’m not surprised since trees and humans are fairly close on the tree of life. In fact, they are not so distant cousins.
Super cool: Douglas fir trees network through their root systems, share resources.http://bit.ly/q7B8Y6 (via @Chrysaora)
Nature’s serendipity. If trees can work together and #collaborate, so can we. ‘Do trees communicate? Networks, network..’ http://ow.ly/5Txc6
And you get paid for this? is this another Goverment program that needs to be removed. First off, who cares and secondly, like its going to change the world in which we live, you stayed in the woods to long! Get a life!!
“Of course trees communicate!” says Fleur. http://fb.me/19Y2WvFTa
"Of course trees communicate!" says Fleur. http://fb.me/19Y2WvFTa
A new, yet old, take on networks > http://bit.ly/nnWIIl
Talking trees http://bit.ly/qY2U6w
Do trees communicate? Networks, networks… http://abject.ca/do-trees-communicate/
All trees are interconnected, with the largest, oldest trees serving as hubs. http://t.co/jtlIDmI /via @ashalynd @golan @160B
Do trees communicate? Networks, networks… http://t.co/Z8ooxhw
To follow up what @JennzKing was talking about – http://t.co/l47S5Ce
Reminds me of the South African tree called the Mopanie that communicates with other Mopanie trees to make tannin as soon as the Kudu’s start eating the leaves of a tree…
Do trees communicate? Networks, networks… http://t.co/p4XZQBc #sna #networking
Kind of changes how you think about them: Do trees communicate? Networks, networks… http://j.mp/ouAV2O
Redes de comunicación entre árboles: http://t.co/ZsmJNpN (Vía @S33light)
networking increases surivival (at least for Pseudotsuga menziesii var. glauca) http://v.gd/jtHFEu /via @wirednews #science #biology #fb
Trees network to enlarge the group… http://abject.ca/do-trees-communicate/
Do trees communicate? Networks, networks: http://t.co/U9iXABh
Do trees communicate? Networks, networks… http://j.mp/q7B8Y6 #graphs
Do trees communicate? Networks, networks http://j.mp/rll0af
Trees form networks with their roots – http://j.mp/q7B8Y6 #avatar
Yes they call me to say hi from time to time RT @realscottmcleod: Do trees communicate? http://t.co/juLYXga
Trees share through their root/microbe systems http://t.co/cPYGZ1s and through pheromone releases http://t.co/ANOlYRZ Pretty cool!
I recommend Dr. Simard remove or otherwise cease using metaphors such as “Mother trees” — it makes it too easy to dismiss this research as some lovey-dovey hippy-dippy New Ager bullshit. Don’t make it easy to dismiss with sloppy language. It might make it easier to connect with a particular audience, but it hurts in the long run. It feminizes the forest, feminizes nature, and that just makes the forest destroyers feel more ‘manly’. It creates/perpetuates the male/female, creative/destructive binary that does not accurately depict how the forest system works or human’s role in the world.
Thiew sounds like one othe scenes from Avatar when they are explaining the network thats in place in the forrest.
http://t.co/xQrzUyF Earth is a giant brain. Which makes you wonder why people are so stupid.
Do trees communicate? Networks, networks… http://t.co/NpZ23qI
I knew it… Trees DO communicate. http://t.co/g5WfGGY
Come on, filter out the ping-backs – it’s impossible to have a decent conversation in the the notes.
This is nuts, new discovery proves that trees communicate between each other – http://t.co/84pnCXD
insight into how trees ‘communicate’ via a mycorrhizal network; new individuals show better survival rate if they’re… http://t.co/RmykRDc
"Do trees communicate?" by: @brlamb http://t.co/6MwWK6S > @hrheingold wonders if they may even form kind of a #flashhmob?
Do trees communicate? Networks, networks… http://t.co/jMEhGkL [via @newsycombinator]
Avatar tenía razón. Los árboles se comunican unos con otros: http://t.co/hdcw1W2
Cool. "@rob_fe: This is nuts, new discovery proves that trees communicate between each other – http://t.co/uArbr3E"
Trees as Networks
Lv this RT @Robindrafari: Research finds that Douglas fir trees are networked, communicate & share resources http://t.co/Ew6meyi –
Wow, just like Avatar? RT @hackernewsbot: Do trees communicate? Networks, networks… http://t.co/vpZmp3J
Wonders Do trees communicate? Networks, networks… http://t.co/B0Us4Cw #abject
This reminds me a little of Avatar planet where the whole planet’s life can sense each other…cool! and thanks for that link to the UBC botanical blog- heading over there now.
Natural networks: do trees communicate? http://t.co/2arvmMu
Do trees communicate? Networks, networks… | Abject http://t.co/ZG8Od7D
Do trees communicate? Networks, networks… | @Abject http://t.co/vAEUOr7
Yeah, that logging we have planned? Apparently I will be killing network of fir that will talk shit about me after. http://t.co/7eIk8LI
Do trees communicate? http://t.co/g5wgiZV
Do trees communicate? Networks, networks http://t.co/knBUAfh
Do trees on Earth, as in Pandora, communicate? http://t.co/GM3jll8
Is mycorrhizal learning the new rhizomatic learning? http://j.mp/q7B8Y6 / cc @davecormier
Do trees communicate? Networks, networks… | Abject http://t.co/Dik0Eud
Do trees communicate? Networks, networks…( http://t.co/tLLjnfy )
Alraayt got me some @sitesimon recognition RT Nice Find!!! RT @datcn: Incredible "Do trees communicate?" http://t.co/SzjP5TL #nature
Do trees communicate? Networks, networks:)).http://t.co/4ArbVWL
Looking for info about low frequency sounds emitted by trees. These sounds can be heard by animals and birds, but not by humans.
Do trees communicate? Networks, networks… | As seen at Abject by @brlamb | http://t.co/baZFwNbQ #Mycorrhizal #postdoc
Do Trees Communicate?| Very cool post from @brlamb passed my way by @drgarcia http://t.co/WkihzoHD #talons
@onepercentyello Have you seen @brlamb’s post about trees communicating http://t.co/mR2qA5cV
Mother tree? Father tree? Or parent tree?
Para quienes gustan asombrarse de su planeta: los árboles se comunican con una red bajo tierra http://t.co/dZdOAQ8e
If you like #trees, @birdy27, this will hold your attention: http://t.co/vGfvd4ST
the brainstorming process for @egcon2013 has taken us to mycorrhizal network visualization and a blog post from @brlamb http://t.co/ZDoKBtQX
Do Trees Communicate? Fascinating short video on how mycorrhizal networks operate: http://t.co/dFI7WK9C thnx to @hrheingold
Do trees communicate and cooperate > yup < http://t.co/DZW3X75X #cooplit @hrheingold
Do trees communicate/cooperate? #cooplit http://t.co/j0EZswIV
I keep seeing more around this theme over the last few years: Do trees communicate? Networks, networks… http://t.co/rLrUA4N7O9
I wonder if this data could be synthesized into a common forest language to listen and learn http://t.co/YOBk4bM5sM
Fascinating stuff! – Do #Trees Communicate? #Mycorrhizal Networks? http://t.co/yhl0ArOXJj
Do trees communicate? fascinating video clip http://t.co/faP2AS2Tzz – interspecies communication network #COMM506
Terrific, thanks! MT @jmc3ualberta: Do trees communicate?http://t.co/2lyLq52m8l – interspecies communication network #COMM506