Researchers from Stanford University in collaboration with over 200 researchers from other universities, including SLU, generated these maps and published in Nature on May 16. The work reveals a new biological rule that the research team calls “Read’s Law”, after a pioneer in symbiosis research, Sir David Read.
For example, researchers used the survey to predict how symbiosis might change by 2070, if carbon dioxide emissions continue as they do today. This scenario led to a ten percent reduction in the biomass of tree species that have the type of soft-pink rhizomes found primarily in cooler areas. The researchers warn that such a loss of growth can increase the amount of carbon in the atmosphere.
“There’s only so many different symbiotic types and we’re showing that they obey clear rules,” said lead author Brian Steidinger, a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford. Our models predict major changes in the world’s forest symbiosis – changes that may affect the climate in which our grandchildren will live. – The result of the study is important in itself, but it also shows the strength and usefulness of the data collected in well-executed monitoring programs such as the National Forest Assessment, says Bertil Westerlund from SLU, who contributed Swedish data to the study.