A walk through the forest can be a truly stunning experience. Gazing at the sturdy, immense trees reaching toward the sky, one is constantly reminded of their beauty and grandeur. It turns out that there is an impressive world not only above the soil, but also below. Scientists have discovered how trees communicate through a vast and complex network system.
Solitary Giants or Sociable Beings?
Contrary to popular belief, trees are not the solitary figures we once thought them to be. In fact, they are extremely social and even depend on one another for survival. The secret life of trees is rich and complex. Underground, they are sending messages, trading, and even preparing for battle against one another. Just like humans, trees are part of thriving, elaborate communities.
How Trees Communicate
How can trees achieve such an advanced level of communication below the soil? The answer lies in mycelium, a thread-like mushroom that lives around and inside tree roots. These fungi create a massive web, endearingly nicknamed the “Wood Wide Web” that facilitates communication between trees.
Using this network, forests can exchange water and nutrients. Aside from the occasional war, trees are generally quite altruistic. They can offer extra nutrients to saplings to give them a head start, and they can nurse their sick neighbors back to health. They also demonstrate an awareness of their fellow trees and give one another room to grow. Trees can even send electrical signals across the Wood Wide Web to warn others of danger. And elder trees can pass their wisdom down to the next generation.
As researchers continue to learn about the relationships between trees, the environmental implications only increase. Once individuals and governments understand the interdependence of trees, they may be more likely to conserve them. The knowledge of trees’ communication network could prove to be a powerful tool in advocating against deforestation. At a time when we are cutting down an area of one and a half soccer fields every minute in the Amazon alone, saving our forests has become more important than ever.