On the Trails: The afterlife of trees


When biologists look at trees in the forests, they are likely to think about such matters as growth rates, insect pests, fungal infections, nesting birds, seed dispersal and seedling recruitment, and so on. All those interesting and sometimes complicated interactions and processes among the living precede the beginning of a long and complex saga of what happens when a tree dies. Some scientists have called this the afterlife of trees.

A tree may die after a long life or succumb to wind, flood, landslide, beavers, lightning, fungi, insects or whatnot, well short of its potential lifespan. Whatever the cause of death, a tree is then embarked on its afterlife,

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