Kauri tree stump manages to stay alive thanks to its neighbors

Kauri tree stump manages to stay alive thanks to its neighbors

An old stump from a Kauri tree has somehow managed to stay alive with the help of some neighboring intertwined roots in the forest. These roots form a common network which the scientists call as a forest ‘superorganism.’ The old stump belongs to a Kauri tree found in West Auckland, New Zealand.

The group of researchers who presented their findings in a new study found it shocking that the old stump was alive even when it had no sign of any leaves on it. The new study was published in the scientific journal iScience. The scientists were further perplexed by the fact that the neighboring trees help the old stump stay alive even if it can’t provide any nutrition to them due to a lack of foliage.

The stump is kept alive by the grafting provided by the green trees. The team of researchers examined the network of roots for the flow of nutrients and observed that the old stump and its neighboring trees have different spans of water intake. The authors of the study wrote in the abstract that “Sudden atmospherically driven changes in water relations in adjacent kauri trees were very rapidly and inversely mirrored in the living stump’s water status. Such intimate hydrological coupling suggests a ‘communal physiology’ among (conspecific) trees with far-reaching implications for our understanding of forest functioning, particularly underwater shortage.”

The scientists explained that this process of water intake is different from other trees whose water flow is decided by the atmosphere’s water potential. The researchers are speculating that the nearby Kauri trees are still able to use the stump’s roots as a way to access water and nutrients. The roots are also helping to hold together the land around the slope in the forest, thus helping the neighboring trees to stay intact.

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