By Robert Dalheim
Scientists discovered that trees talk to each other through the Wood Wide Web. And now, they’ve mapped it.
Do trees actually talk to each other? And if so, how do they do it?
Just over 20 years ago, ecologist Suzanne Simard discovered that trees do communicate with each other, and it’s through a fungal network scientists have nicknamed the Wood Wide Web.
And now, an international team of scientists has created the first global map of the vast underground network. They did this by creating a computer algorithm to analyze a database from the Global Forest Inititiave, which includes 1.2 million trees in more than 70 countries.
The algorithm takes into account the different fungal species that associate with each tree species. It also takes into account local climate factors – which the scientists say has the biggest role to play.
“It’s the first time that we’ve been able to understand the world beneath our feet, but at a global scale,” Thomas Crowther, an author of the study from ETH Zurich, told the BBC. “Just like an MRI scan of the brain helps us to understand how the brain works, this global map of the fungi beneath the soil helps us to understand how global ecosystems work.
“What we find is that certain types of microorganisms live in certain parts of the world, and by understanding that we can figure out how to restore different types of ecosystems and also how the climate is changing,” he said.