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Trees are much more than just wood, leaves, needles, and roots. They are amazing beings that play a crucial role in our lives and the lives of countless animals. In his new book, “The Hidden Company That Trees Keep: Life From Treetops to Root Tips,” James Nardi offers a fascinating account of the secret world of trees and their animal companions. This book is not just for scientists or biology enthusiasts, but for anyone who wants to learn about the enduring alliances between trees and animals and how they enhance each other’s lives.

Source: BBC World Service/Youtube

As a research biologist, Nardi has been studying the mysteries of animal and plant development for years. He has a deep appreciation for the beauty of nature and the endless forms that unfold from seemingly formless cells and tissues. In his book, he explains how trees and animals interact and Support each other. For example, all trees depend on the soil and sun for nutrients and energy, and they also depend on countless interactions with their animal and microbial companions above and below ground. These companions have served trees well for eons, and losing any of them can have disastrous consequences.

One of the most fascinating topics in Nardi’s book is the chemical language that trees and animals share. When a tree is attacked or injured, it emits chemicals that attract companions that act as allies in defending the tree against herbivores. Trees have immune and signaling systems that have many parallels with our own, and predators of all sizes offer their assistance in defending trees. Parasitic insects, for instance, make up a whopping 10 percent of all animal species and can translate the chemical alarm language of trees. They are recruited to sites of injury and act as exceptional guardians and allies for trees.

This book is unique because it integrates information about groups of organisms that are typically not considered together in standard field guides. Each creature is considered in the context of its interactions with others sharing the same habitat on a tree, shaping the dynamics of life on the tree. Nardi’s book offers a singular, alien world found on trees in our towns, cities, and forests, and the accompanying illustrations give us a glimpse of this world that most of us will never encounter at close range.

Nardi is hopeful that as people learn more about trees and their secret world, they will change the way they view these amazing beings. As we learn more about the intricacies of nature’s webs, our respect and appreciation for our mutually supportive partnerships with trees and their companions will only strengthen. People love trees and the many gifts they offer to humans and animals. It is time for us to reciprocate with respect and care for our trees and their secret society.

In conclusion, Nardi’s “The Hidden Company That Trees Keep” is an eye-opening and fascinating book that sheds light on the secret world of trees and their animal companions. It is a call to action for us to restore and preserve our forests and to understand how the lives of trees and animals are intertwined. So, let’s start appreciating and caring for our trees, and the many gifts they offer to us and the animals around us.

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