The Wood Wide Web

The Wood Wide Web is the term used to encapsulate the communication systems between trees in forests. Through the mycorrhiza (fungal networks) in the soil, trees trade and share nutrients.

Jennifer Frazer’s blog at Scientific American, The Artful Amoeba, explores how our animal-based modes for all organisms simply don’t stick. Animals are anomalies in the biological world in their discreteness. Most of this planet cannot be captured via individuals, but organisms can only be made sense of qua networks, assemblages, cooperative ecologies.

That animals too are composed of multiple species, and that we to are reliant on our fellow symbionts for life, is not an insight confined to the plant, fungi, and bacterial kingdoms. It is the persistent myth of the individual self alone that instigates actions and policies failing to respect and cultivate in healthy ways are always already unavoidable connectivity. Perhaps if we acknowledged the interspeciality and interpenetration animals also share with our environments and the other creatures making up our Umwelten, then we would take better care of the habitats we live in and visit.

Radiolab’s recent interviews of both Simard and Frazer help make accessible the complexities of phyto-myco relationships and symbiosis.