1. Standing or Fallen Symplastless Trees - Dead or Alive?

26.  My point is as follows:  See that plane flying above?  Is it dead or alive?  The answer is “yes”.   See that fallen or standing symplastless tree?  Is it alive or dead?  Again, “yes”.  In contrast, a symplastless tree or log includes a considerable number of living cells, as much 35% of the biomass may be live fungal cells (Franklin, Shugart and Harmon, 1987, pg 551).  I.e., internally.  KEY WORD “BIOMASS”

The fungus in the picture is known as the "sulfur fungus".

27.  We have no word for a substance that is both living and dead - wood, soil (Shigo, 1999, #214 pg 34).

28.  Trees connect living and dead cells in ways so that the dead parts still benefit the entire tree (SHIGO, 1999).   

29.  Here are some points regarding this topic.  Surely there is much more.

30.  We document that a large symplastless tree is not a wasted resource; indeed, it continues to function as an important part of a terrestrial or water system, either while remaining on the site at which it once grew, or by becoming a structural part of an aquatic or marine habitat. We aim to help anyone interested in perpetual forest productivity to understand the importance of large, symplastless woody debris. The book develops certain principles and ideas in sequence from the forest to the sea (Maser, Tarrant, Trappe and Franklin, 1988, pg 1par5).

31.  Fallen trees harbor a myriad of organisms, from bacteria and actinomycetes to higher fungi.  Of these, only some of the fungi might be noticed by the causal observer as mushrooms or bracket fungi.  These structures, however, are merely the fruiting bodies produced by mold colonies within the log.  Many fungi fruit within the fallen tree, so they are seen only when the tree is torn apart. Even when a fallen tree is torn apart, only a fraction of the fungi present are noticed because the fruiting bodies of most appear only for a small portion of the year.  The smaller organisms, not visible to the unaided eye, are still important components of the system (Maser and Trappe, 1984, pg16-par 5).    

32.  The flow of plant and animal populations, air, water, and essential elements between a fallen tree and its surroundings increases as decomposition continues (Maser and Trappe, 1984, pg 12-par1).

33.  Fallen trees offer multitudes of both external and internal habitats that change and yet persist through the decades.  One needs an understanding of the synergistic affects of constant small changes within a persistent large structure to appreciate the dynamics of a fallen tree and its function in an ecosystem (Maser and Trappe, 1984, pg 17-par 1).    

34.  The so called symplastless, still standing tree, still continues to serve several natural functions important to many groups of organisms of the once fertile forest or tree system.

35.  Eventually the tree falls:  the wood is in contact with the soil, again providing another unique ecological situation. Some species such as American chestnut would have served ecological system survival duties for 50 years or more (SHIGO, 1969).

36.  As fallen trees progress from decay class I to class II, the scavengers are replaced by competitors with the enzyme systems needed to decompose the more complex compounds in wood. The fungi involved in this activity are often mutually antagonistic, so that a given part of the tree may be occupied by only one fungus that excludes others by physical or chemical means (Maser and Trappe, 1984, pg27-par4).   (We call this altered area a niche - See pg70 Modern Arboriculture)(See niche in our Dictionary)

37.  Bacteria are very small. They do big things (Shigo, 1999, #216 pg34)

38.  Free-living bacteria in woody residues and soil wood fix 30-60% of the nitrogen in the forest soil. In addition, 20% of soil nitrogen is stored in these components (Harvey et al. 1987). Harmon et al. (1986) reported that CWD accounted for as much as 45% of aboveground stores of organic matter. Symplastless wood in terrestrial ecosystems is a primary location for fungal colonization and often acts as refugia for mycorrhizal fungi during ecosystem disturbance (Triska and Cromack 1979; Harmon et al. 1986; Caza 1993) (Voller and Harrison, 1998).     

39.  Franklin, et. al. (1987) pg 551 states - With the large array of organisms present in the decaying log, it may be more “alive” than a living bole.  In addition to being the habitat of decomposer organisms, symplastless trees provide critical habitat for sheltering and feeding a variety of animal species. 

40.  Conclusion:  What purpose and need is there that biomass be classified as dead?  Although the symplast may have died completely, the structure still continues, most of the time as a biomass.  To claim to be removing just “dead” “non-functional” mass during logging operations, is based on false premise, i.e., that the biomass is dead.  Symplastless and symplast containing trees are linked together in the living machinery of a forest (Maser, Tarrant, Trappe and Franklin, 1988, pg25par1).  

Text & Graphics Copyright © 2004 Keslick & Son Modern Arboriculture
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John A. Keslick, Jr.



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