0 If you look at a forest top from above or below, you might see a pattern of nicely spaced pathways twisting between the trees. This phenomenon is known as “ crown shyness .” Attempts have been made to explain it, with most experts concluding it’s due to many factors . Initially, it was thought to be wind making the upper branches rub against each other, damaging them to the point where they stop growing. But one study found no difference between windy and sheltered forests. One hypothesis is that light levels allow the growing tree tips to detect when another is too close, causing them to stop growing in that direction. Others think it could be natural adaptation to help trees maximize access to resources like light and minimize competition. Despite their crown “social distancing,” many trees communicate with each other through underground fungal networks, or “mycorrhizae”. As Peter Wohlleben explored in The Hidden Life of Trees and Wayne Grady and I in Tree: A Life Story , these “wood-wide webs” allow fungi to derive sugars from the trees while providing trees with water, nutrients, and better conditions for root expansion. They also facilitate transmission of warnings between […]

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