The Forest Unseen: A Year's Watch in Nature
David George Haskell
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
Finalist for 2013 Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction.
Winner of the 2013 Reed Environmental Writing Award.
Winner of the 2012 National Outdoor Book Award for Natural History Literature.
Runner-up for 2013 PEN/E. O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award.
A biologist reveals the secret world hidden in a single square meter of forest
watch it bypass the pollen and stigma, then upend and steal the flower’s sugary nectar. This robbery is the cost borne by open-cupped flowers for welcoming a diverse set of pollinators: freeloaders move in and exploit your openness. Spring beauty flowers choose the most welcoming, and therefore the most vulnerable, strategy by freely offering nectar inside an open cup that is accessible to any insect. Hepatica and rue anemone also produce open cups, but neither offers nectar. These nectarless
trees’ system for moving water is remarkably efficient. They exert no energy, instead letting the sun’s power draw water through their trunks. If humans were to design mechanical devices to lift hundreds of gallons of water from roots to canopy, the forest would be a cacophony of pumps, choked with diesel fumes or run through with electrical wires. Evolution’s economy is too tight and thrifty to allow such profligacy, and so water moves through trees with silence and ease. Yet this efficient
of magma. Golf balls don’t end the cycle of matter, as they seem to do. They take mined oil and minerals into a new form, soar briefly, then return the atoms to their slow geological dance. Another fate is possible. The earthstars and mushrooms that ring the mandala’s golf balls may devise a way to digest and recycle the balls’ plastic. Fungi are masters of decomposition, so natural selection might produce a plastic-munching mushroom. Stupendous quantities of matter and energy are locked up in
leaf reflects the evolutionary struggle between caterpillars and birds. The migrating warblers seem ephemeral, but their presence will outlast their physical departure. September 23rd—Vulture My study of the chewed leaves in the canopy has drawn my eyes skyward. The summer canopy usually narrows my world, directing my gaze down, but now I peer through chinks in the tree cover. The sky has been cleared of dust by a vigorous rainstorm that gusted through yesterday, leaving glassy blue.
reconfiguration of broad leaves in high winds.” Journal of Experimental Botany 40: 941–48. May 18th—Herbivory Ananthakrishnan, T. N., and A. Raman. 1993. Chemical Ecology of Phytophagous Insects. New York: International Science Publisher. Chown, S. L., and S. W. Nicolson. 2004. Insect Physiological Ecology. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Hartley, S. E., and C. G. Jones. 2009. “Plant chemistry and herbivory, or why the world is green.” In Plant Ecology, edited by M. J. Crawley. 2nd ed.