Trees ‘stressed’ by climate crisis work together to form resource-sharing root networks, research suggests

Latest studies show tree communities are not engaged in ‘survival of the fittest’ race, but make mutual gains through cooperation, writes Harry Cockburn

Thursday 06 May 2021 16:03
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Trees’ roots can graft onto one another to hold each other for physical support and share nutrients
Trees’ roots can graft onto one another to hold each other for physical support and share nutrients

The growing recognition of how trees communicate with one another is a 21st century phenomenon which has revolutionised how we think about forests, woodlands and the individual trees which populate them.

They are not all separate plants indifferently competing with their neighbours for nutrients and sunlight, but, we now know, team up and interact with one another in various ways to help nurture and protect each other and the communities they live in.

But new research highlights how trees facing adverse conditions brought by the climate crisis appear to share resources more readily – thereby protecting themselves and each other.

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