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Jennifer Schweitzer, associate professor and associate head in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, recently published a study on tree migration in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution. Findings from the study were mentioned by Mother Nature Network, Climate Wire, Scientific American and Canada’s Weather Network.

The study explains that beneath our feet, an intelligent, multi-layered network of fungi, bacteria and other micro-organisms, collectively known as the soil microbiome, is actively influencing the leafy life we see above. These soil organisms play a critical role in influencing a naturally occurring phenomenon known as “tree migration,” a concept which involves the movement of tree populations in geographical space over time.

Schweitzer — who co-authored the paper with Michael Van Nuland, a recent Ph.D graduate of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology — said forest managers and conservationists may consider accounting for a tree’s microscopic soil creatures in the future, as they could determine how quickly species march toward cooler conditions.