Leaf microbiomes are a neighborhood affair in northern forests — ScienceDaily

Forest leaves are teeming with bacterial life — but despite the vast extent of bacteria-covered foliage across the world, this habitat, known as the phyllosphere, remains full of mysteries. How do bacteria spread from tree to tree? Do certain types of bacteria only live on certain types of trees?

A new paper published in the Ecological Society of America’s journal Ecological Monographs addresses some of these questions. The findings reveal that the leaf microbiomes of sugar maple trees vary across the species’ range, changing in accordance with the types of trees in the surrounding “neighborhood.”

Geneviève Lajoie, now a post-doctoral researcher at the University of British Columbia and the paper’s lead author, performed the research as a Ph.D. student at the Université du Québec à Montréal. She and her field assistant spent a summer in hot pursuit of bacteria-covered foliage, camping at remote parks and rushing to get their leaf

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The Social Life of Forests



The Social Life of Forests

Trees appear to communicate and cooperate through subterranean networks of fungi. What are they sharing with one another?

By Ferris Jabr
Photographs by Brendan George Ko

As a child, Suzanne Simard often roamed Canada’s old-growth forests with her siblings, building forts from fallen branches, foraging mushrooms and huckleberries and occasionally eating handfuls of dirt (she liked the taste). Her grandfather and uncles, meanwhile, worked nearby as horse loggers, using low-impact methods to selectively harvest cedar, Douglas fir and white pine. They took so few trees that Simard never noticed much of a difference. The forest seemed ageless and infinite, pillared with conifers, jeweled with raindrops and brimming with ferns and fairy bells. She experienced it as “nature in the raw” — a mythic realm, perfect as it was. When she began attending the University of British Columbia, she was elated to discover forestry: an entire

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New research reveals ‘megatrends’ that will affect forests in the next decade — ScienceDaily

A group of experts from academic, governmental and international organisations have identified five large-scale ‘megatrends’ affecting forests and forest communities, published today in Nature Plants. These are likely to have major consequences — both positively and negatively — over the coming decade.

Around the world, 1.6 billion people live within 5km of a forest, and millions rely on them for their livelihoods, especially in poorer countries. They are also home to much of the world’s biodiversity, and regulate key aspects of the carbon cycle. In short, forests are vital in global and national efforts to combat climate change and biodiversity loss, and eradicate hunger and poverty.

Despite their importance, research on forests and livelihoods to date has mainly focused on understanding local household and community-level dynamics — identifying the links between human and natural systems at the regional and global scales is critical for future policy and action.

The

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Forests support jobs and encourage biodiversity, but face threats

Forests are beautiful, home to a diverse range of wildlife, and play an important role when it comes to looking after the world we live in.

Much like their appearance, the benefits of forests are multi-layered.

According to a recent report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N. (FAO), forests “supply water, provide livelihoods, mitigate climate change and are essential for sustainable food production.”

All is not well, however. The State of the World’s Forests 2020 report says that both forest degradation and deforestation “continue to take place at alarming rates.”

And while the FAO states that the rate of deforestation has actually fallen across the last three decades, it also notes that an estimated 420 million hectares “have been lost through conversion to other land uses” since 1990.

Against this backdrop, a range of organizations are attempting to promote the sustainable management of forests.

These include France-based

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Some tropical forests show surprising resilience as temperatures rise

The world’s hottest rainforest is located not in the Amazon or anywhere else you might expect, but inside Biosphere 2, the experimental scientific research facility in the desert outside Tucson, Arizona. A recent study of tropical trees planted there in the early 1990s reported a surprising result: They have withstood temperatures higher than any likely to be experienced by tropical forests this century.

The study adds to a growing tally of findings that are giving forest scientists something that’s been in short supply lately: hope. Plants may have unexpected resources that could help them survive—and perhaps even thrive—in a hotter, more carbon-rich future. And while tropical forests still face both human and natural threats, some researchers believe dire reports of their impending decline due to climate change may have been exaggerated.

“Biology is ingenious,” says Scott Saleska, an ecologist at the University of Arizona in Tucson and co-leader of the

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Virtual reality forests could help understanding of climate change

Virtual reality forests could help understanding of climate change
A Wisconsin type forest created in virtual reality to illustrate the effects of climate change scenarios on the trees and forest.  Credit: Alexander Klippel and Jiawei Huang, Penn State

The effects of climate change are sometimes difficult to grasp, but now a virtual reality forest, created by geographers, can let people walk through a simulated forest of today and see what various futures may hold for the trees.


“The main problem that needs to be addressed is that climate change is abstract,” said Alexander Klippel, professor of geography, Penn State. “Its meaning only unfolds in 10, 15 or 100 years. It is very hard for people to understand and plan and make decisions.”

The researchers combined information on forest composition with information on forest ecology to create a forest similar to those found in Wisconsin.

“As part of an NSF-funded CNH program grant with Erica Smithwick (E. Willard and Ruby

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Drones that patrol forests could monitor environmental and ecological changes — ScienceDaily

Sensors for forest monitoring are already used to track changes in temperature, humidity and light, as well as the movements of animals and insects through their habitat. They also help to detect and monitor forest fires and can provide valuable data on how climate change and other human activities are impacting the natural world.

However, placing these sensors can prove difficult in large, tall forests, and climbing trees to place them poses its own risks.

Now, researchers at Imperial College London’s Aerial Robotics Laboratory have developed drones that can shoot sensor-containing darts onto trees several metres away in cluttered environments like forests. The drones can also place sensors through contact or by perching on tree branches.

The researchers hope the drones will be used in future to create networks of sensors to boost data on forest ecosystems, and to track hard-to-navigate biomes like the Amazon rainforest.

Lead researcher Professor Mirko

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