EcoWatch is a community of experts publishing quality, science-based content on environmental issues, causes, and solutions for a healthier planet and life. 
Mentioned by:

As a result of a growing body of evidence, many biologists have started using the term "wood wide web" to describe the communications services that fungi provide to plants and other organisms. David Clapp / Getty Images

By Fino Menezes

Imagine an information superhighway that speeds up interactions between a large, diverse population of individuals, allowing individuals who may be widely separated to communicate and help each other out. When you walk in the woods, this is all happening beneath your feet. No, we're not talking about the internet, we're talking about fungi. As a result of a growing body of evidence, many biologists have started using the term "wood wide web" to describe the communications services that fungi provide to plants and other organisms.

By Fino Menezes

Imagine an information superhighway that speeds up interactions between a large, diverse population of individuals, allowing individuals who may be widely separated to communicate and help each other out. When you walk in the woods, this is all happening beneath your feet. No, we’re not talking about the internet, we’re talking about fungi. As a result of a growing body of evidence, many biologists have started using the term “wood wide web” to describe the communications services that fungi provide to plants and other organisms.


All trees all over the world form a symbiotic association with below-ground fungi These are fungi that are beneficial to the plants and explore the soil. The fungi send mycelium, a mass of thin threads, through the soil. The mycelium picks up nutrients and water, brings them back to the plant, and exchanges the nutrients and water for a sugar or other substance made by photosynthesis from the plant. AlbertonRecord.co.za

This Win/Win Is a Mutually Beneficial Exchange.

While researching her doctoral thesis some 20+ years ago, ecologist Suzanne Simard discovered that trees communicate their needs and send each other nutrients via a network of latticed fungi buried in the soil – in other words, she found, they “talk” to each other.

Simard showed how trees use a network of soil fungi to communicate their needs and aid neighboring plants.

Since then she has pioneered further research into how trees converse, including how these fungal filigrees help trees send warning signals about environmental change, search for kin and how they transfer their nutrients to neighboring plants before they die.

All trees all over the world form a symbiotic association with below-ground fungi. These are fungi that are beneficial to the plants and explore the soil. The fungi send mycelium, a mass of thin threads, through the soil. The mycelium picks up nutrients and water, brings them back to the plant, and exchanges the nutrients and water for a sugar or other substance made by photosynthesis from the plant.

It’s this network that connects one tree root system to another tree root system, so that nutrients and water can exchange between them.

The word “mycorrhiza” describes the mutually-beneficial relationships that plants have in which the fungi colonize the roots of plants. The mycorrhizae connect plants that may be widely separated.

Source: AlbertonRecord.co.za

Check Out This Example of Networking Opportunities.

Sixty-seven Douglas fir trees of various ages were found to be intricately connected below ground by ectomychorrhiza from the Rhizopogon genus. Rhizopogon, which means ‘root beard’ in Greek, is commonly found living in a symbiotic relationship with pine and fir trees, and thus is thought to play an important ecological role in coniferous forests. Areas occupied and trees connected by Rhizopogon vesiculosus are shaded blue, or shown with blue lines, while Rhizopogon vinicolor colonies and connections between trees are colored pink, or shown by pink lines. The most highly connected tree was linked to 47 other trees through eight colonies of R. vesiculosus and three of R. vinicolor.

Source: NewZealandGeographic

 

BBC News Trees talk and share resources right under our feet, using a fungal network nicknamed the Wood Wide Web. Some plants use the system to support their offspring, while others hijack it to sabotage their rivals. YouTube/BBCNews

The Wood Wide Web Is Earth’s Natural Internet.

While mushrooms are the most familiar part of a fungus, most of their bodies are made up of mycelium. These threads act as a kind of underground internet, now referred to as the “wood wide web” linking the roots of different plants and different species.

By linking to the fungal network they can help out their neighbors by sharing nutrients and information or by sabotaging unwelcome plants by spreading toxic chemicals through the network.

Fungal networks also boost their host plants’ immune systems. Simply plugging in to mycelial networks makes plants more resistant to disease.

Trees in forests are not really individuals. Large trees help out small, younger ones using the fungal internet. Without this help, Simard thinks many seedlings wouldn’t survive. She found that seedlings in the shade, which are likely to be short of food, received carbon from other trees.

Learn more about the harmonious yet complicated social lives of trees and prepare to see the natural world with new eyes with Suzanne Simard’s TED Talk, below.

Source: AlbertonRecord.co.za

Reposted with permission from BrightVibes.

Read More
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

April 2020 was the first month ever that renewables generated more electricity than thermal coal in the United States every single day. Crady von Pawlak / Getty Images

By Fino Menezes

April 2020 was the first month ever that renewables generated more electricity than thermal coal in the United States every single day, while across the Atlantic, the United Kingdom's rapid decarbonization of its electricity grid has achieved another significant milestone – completing a whole month (30 days) without coal power for the first time in 138 years.

By Fino Menezes

April 2020 was the first month ever that renewables generated more electricity than thermal coal in the United States every single day, while across the Atlantic, the United Kingdom’s rapid decarbonization of its electricity grid has achieved another significant milestone – completing a whole month (30 days) without coal power for the first time in 138 years.


Renewables Surpass Coal in U.S. Power Generation Every Day in April

April 2020 was the first month in U.S. history that renewables generated more electricity than coal on every day of the month. That’s based on new data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) and compiled by the nonprofit Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA).

The daily consecutive run of renewables over coal began on March 25 and continued for 40 straight days through May 3. That breaks the previous record of just nine continuous days.

The strong output from utility-scale solar, wind, and hydropower is based on several factors, including low gas prices, warmer weather, new renewable capacity connecting to the grid late last year, and lower power demand because of the coronavirus.

IEEFA reported: “Coal’s high cost has made it increasingly one of the last fuel choices for many utilities, a trend reflected by its declining market share for electric generation: just 15.3% in April, according to preliminary EIA figures.

“In January, coal’s market share fell below 20% for the first time in many decades — and possibly for the first time in the entire history of the U.S. power industry — ending at 19.9%.

“EIA figures also show its share continued to erode, falling to 18.3% in February and 17.3% in March. As recently as 2008, coal’s market share was above 50% in the months of January, February and March.”

IEEFA had previously forecasted that power generation from renewables would likely surpass coal-fired generation in 2021, an important milestone in the energy transition that is well underway. But in the first quarter of 2020, renewable generation unexpectedly exceeded coal, and with this strong performance continuing in the second quarter, there is an increasing chance that the milestone could occur this year.

U.K. Goes a Month Without Coal Power for First Time for 138 Years

The United Kingdom’s rapid decarbonization of its electricity grid has achieved another significant milestone – completing a whole month (30 days) without coal power for the first time in 138 years, reported The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) this week.

The milestone was reached on Sunday 10 May (U.K.) time and celebrated by National Grid ESO, the organization that runs the grid and is responsible for keeping the lights on nationwide. It was the first time this occurred since coal power was first used on the U.K. power system in January, 1882, at Holborn Viaduct.

Within a few years, there will be no coal generation at all – with the remaining plants shuttered, and one or two converted to gas by 2025. National Grid aims to be able to operate a fully zero emission grid when weather conditions allow from 2025, and is accelerating its adoption of new technologies and management systems that will allow it to side line gas power plants when possible.

Just a few days before the new month-long coal-free milestone, National Grid released its latest end of year planning report outlining the main achievements it has made in the long path to a fully decarbonized grid before 2050.

“We’re really proud of our zero carbon targets,” National Grid wrote in a blog a few days earlier. “In May 2019 there was a 2-week period where there was coal free operation of Great Britain’s electricity system. This has quickly been beaten after the record breaking sunlight in April.”

It noted that the carbon intensity of the electricity system has halved over the last five years, and is down 60 per cent when compared to 2013. “The recent low demand for energy due to COVID-19 has dramatically reduced the use of fossil fuel based generation, and this has been supported by our optimized renewable generation,” it says.

“And as supply changes, so to does demand, as renewables capacity and smart grid functionality increases further to enable the side-lining of gas power plants when possible.”

Reposted with permission from BrightVibes.

Read More

A koala affected by the recent bushfires is released back into native bushland following treatment at the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park on Feb. 21, 2020 in Parndana, Australia. Lisa Maree Williams / Getty Images

By Fino Menezes

After unprecedented bushfires devastated communities and iconic flora and fauna across Australia, non-profit group Science for Wildlife releases 12 koalas back into their natural habitat in the Blue Mountains.

By Fino Menezes

After unprecedented bushfires devastated communities and iconic flora and fauna across Australia, non-profit group Science for Wildlife releases 12 koalas back into their natural habitat in the Blue Mountains.


First Koalas Released Back Into the Wild After Bushfire Horror

Before this current global health crisis, Australia endured an unprecedented bushfire season that devastated communities and iconic flora and fauna across the country. In the midst of the horror, 12 koalas were rescued from the Kanangra Boyd National Park in the southern Blue Mountains World Heritage area. On March 23rd and 25th, they were reintroduced back into the eucalyptus forests of their Kanangra home.

On March 23rd and 25th the Koalas Returned Home 

Science for Wildlife, a not-for-profit wildlife conservation organization based out of Sydney, Australia, recently announced that all of their koalas, saved from the recent bushfires, have been returned to their home in the Blue Mountains of Australia.

They rescued the marsupials, who are representatives of the most genetically diverse population of koalas in Australia, from the devastating mega-fire that moved through the area in December 2019. They were sheltered in safety and cared for by staff at Taronga Zoo, with a team effort between Taronga and Science for Wildlife in keeping them fed.

On March 23rd and 25th, they were reintroduced back into the eucalyptus forests by the team, with the support of San Diego Zoo Global.

“While they have coped well in care, we are delighted to finally send our koalas home. We have been busy assessing the burnt area that we rescued them from, to establish when the conditions have improved enough that the trees can support them again,” said Dr Kellie Leigh, Executive Director of Science for Wildlife.

“The recent rains have helped and there is now plenty of new growth for them to eat, so the time is right. We will be radio-tracking them and keeping a close eye on them to make sure that they settle in ok.”

Dr. Leigh continued, “During the massive fires, as 80% of the World Heritage Area burnt, we were at risk of losing the entire koala population at this site and so that’s what drove us to try something so radical and pull these koalas out before the fire hit.”

The Animals are Part of a Genetically Diverse Koala Population

The Greater Blue Mountains area is a mountainous region located in New South Wales in Australia, which supports koalas that seem to break all the rules. The region was listed as a World Heritage Area by UNESCO in 2000 largely due to an outstanding diversity of eucalypt species (over 100 species), giving koalas more choice of habitats and food trees than anywhere else in Australia.

Science for Wildlife has been running the Blue Mountains Koala Project in this region for 5 years and through collaborative research they discovered that the Blue Mountains World Heritage Region is home to the most genetically diverse population of koalas in the world. The population in Kanangra-Boyd is also free of chlamydia, which is sadly a rare thing. Science for Wildlife, along with San Diego Zoo Global*, is committing resources to help ensure that the population is recovered.

*Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. A leader in global conservation, San Diego Zoo Global has been a core partner for Science for Wildlife’s Blue Mountains Koala Project since it started and have been raising funds to support the rescue and other emergency wildlife work that Dr. Kellie Leigh and her team have been undertaking during the bushfires.

Some of the core funding provided by San Diego Zoo Global over the years has been used for ecological studies and to find, capture and radio-track koalas at the different study sites – those tracking devices are what enabled the team to go in and find the koalas and move them out before the approaching fire. The same devices, along with more support from San Diego Zoo, will now allow them to monitor the animals and ensure they settle in ok.

What’s Next for These Koalas?

The reintroduction of these koalas back to their natural habitat is just the next stage in what conservationists know will be a long-term effort to recover koala populations in the area.

“There is still a lot of work to be done to assess what is left of koalas in this region and plan for population recovery. We are dedicated to continuing to support this critical work to conserve a significant koala population,” said Paul Baribault, President and CEO of San Diego Zoo Global.

The radio-tracking devices fitted to the koalas will ensure that the Science for Wildlife team can monitor their welfare, and also learn more about how koalas use the landscape after fire. This should tell them where else they might find pockets of surviving koalas. Finally, the technology will help the Science for Wildlife team plan a future for koalas under climate change, where more frequent and intense fires are expected.

To learn more about the Blue Mountains Koala Project, visit their project page here.

For projects updates and to learn more about Science for Wildlife community, visit their projects page here, or follow them on Facebook.

Koalas are Being Released in Other Parts of New South Wales

Koalas are also being released in other parts of New South Wales, the state where Sydney is located, reported The Independent last week.

Staff and volunteers at Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, based four hours’ drive north of Sydney, released their first koala on April 2.

The four-year-old named Anwen was rescued in October last year, and will be the first of 26 koalas to be released into the wild by the animal hospital over the coming days.

The remaining koalas will be split into three groups and will be released back to their original habitats in Crowdy Bay (South of Port Macquarie), and two areas in the Lake Innes Nature Reserve.

Sue Ashton, president of Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, said, “This is a heart-warming day for us – to be able to release so many of our koalas back to their original habitats, even to their original tree in some cases – makes us very happy.

“Anwen was our first ever female koala to be admitted during the bushfires and her recovery has been extraordinary. It marks a proud moment for Australia; to see our Koala population and habitat starting to recover from what was such a devastating time.”

Port Macquarie Koala Hospital has also cared for koalas from Taree, the Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury. The hospital said these will be returned to their “home” areas to be released.

Reposted with permission from BrightVibes.

Read More
Spinning icon while loading more posts.