"A forest is much more than what you see," says ecologist Suzanne Simard. Her 30 years of research in Canadian forests have led to an astounding discovery — trees talk, often and over vast distances. Learn more about the harmonious yet complicated social lives of trees and prepare to see the natural world with new eyes.

A professor of forest ecology at the University of British Columbia's Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences in Vancouver, Suzanne Simard studies the surprising and delicate complexity in nature. Her main focus is on the below-ground fungal networks that connect trees and facilitate underground inter-tree communication and interaction.

Her team's analysis revealed that the fungi networks move water, carbon and nutrients such as nitrogen between and among trees as well as across species. The research has demonstrated that these complex, symbiotic networks in our forests -- at the hub of which stand what she calls the "mother trees" -- mimic our own neural and social networks.

This groundbreaking work on symbiotic plant communication has far-reaching implications in both the forestry and agricultural industries, in particular concerning sustainable stewardship of forests and the plant’s resistance to pathogens. She works primarily in forests, but also grasslands, wetlands, tundra and alpine ecosystems.

LINK TO TED TALK

Morocco's Argania trees are infested with nut-hungry goats.  Grown almost exclusively in Morocco, the Argania is a rare and protected species after years of over-farming and clear-cutting. The tree produces an annual fruit crop, and it is this delicious morsel that attracts legions of local goats who hop up into the branches to pick out the fruit. (READ MORE...)

Cave explorer and geologist Francesco Sauro travels to the hidden continent under our feet, surveying deep, dark places inside the earth that humans have never been able to reach before. In the spectacular tepuis of South America, he finds new minerals and insects that have evolved in isolation, and he uses his knowledge of these alien worlds to train astronauts.

First Ever Confirmed Sightings of Omura’s Whales in the Wild

Whales are among the largest animals to have ever lived on Earth, so how could a whale species go undetected until recently, much less have never been seen alive in photos or video. Dr. Salvatore Cerchio of the New England Aquarium and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and an international team of whale biologists have just released images and detailed descriptions on the first  scientific observations in the wild ever of Omura’s whales, one of the least known species of whales in the world. So little is known about the Omura’s that scientists are unsure of how many exist or how rare the species is.

Omura’s whales (Balaenoptera omurai) are a relatively small baleen whale ranging in length from 33 to 38 feet. They are from the from whale family called rorquals, which all have long, deep grooves along their throats that can expand when they feed. Omura’s whales are the smaller cousin in this group that includes the giant blue whales and the acrobatic humpbacks.

This species was only first identified as a distinct species in 2003 from the DNA of dead specimens from old Japanese whaling expeditions and strandings in the tropical western Pacific and Indian Oceans. These rare whales had long been misidentified as a dwarf version of Bryde’s whales, which are another rorqual whale averaging in the mid-40 foot range for length.

(SOURCE - October 2015)