• Austin Campbell

Crown Shyness

Crown Shyness l


Have you ever walked through a forest and wondered why the tops of the trees don't touch. This phenomenon is referred to as "crown shyness" by scientists. According to forests canopy biologist Meg Lowmen, " the minute you start keeping plants from physically touching each other, you increase productivity". "That is the true beauty of isolation". Descriptions of crown shyness have been present in scientific literature since the 1920s. After many decades of observation without understanding crown shyness, scientists began to dig into the root of this phenomena's cause. A leading hypothesis at the time was the tree did not fill in the empty space where foliage would overlap due to lack of light.


Crown Shyness ll(Wind)


A team of researchers in 1984 established that in some cases crown shyness may just be the product of a battle between wind blown trees. Each of these trees sprout new branches to fend off the attacks from other trees. They found that the more the wind had blown the trees around the more widely spaced they would become. This provides evidence for the abrasion hypothesis previously mentioned. About 2 decades later a team led by biologist Mark Rudnik measured the force that makes the trees collide. This helped the team conclude that windy forests full of tall spindly trunks of similar heights were quite prone to crown shyness. The team found that when they used nylon ropes to prevent the wind from making the trees collide they interlocked canopies and filled the empty space between them. The space being filled between adjacent crowns pushes the idea of the abrasion hypothesis.


Crown Shyness lll(Other hypotheses)


Other studies have found multiple paths to crown shyness in forest. A majority of these paths are less combative than the wind tussels previously mentioned. For instance, some trees may stop growing at their tip entirely, wising up to the fact that all new growth will be lost to wind damage. By performing this procedure trees avoid unnecessary damage. Ines Ibanez,a forest ecologist says “growing new tissue is very costly for plants...it's like the tree being preemptive : let's not grow here because it wouldn't be worth it.” Certain trees are able to take this process a step further. They use a specialized sensory system to detect chemicals being produced by other trees nearby. There is not much research on chemical communication between trees, but if trees can sense each other then they may be able to halt growth to avoid collision and unnecessary damage.


Crown Shyness llll(Positives of Isolation)


It is not relevant how it is happening to see that it could be a beneficial procedure. “Leaves are like the trees most precious diamonds - they want to protect them at all cost”, says Meg Lowman. She also says,’If a whole bunch of leaves got knocked off all at once this would be a terrible disaster for the tree. Sparse foliage could help sunlight reach the forest floor, therefore creating a symbiotic relationship between the forest floor dwellers and trees. The trees support them and the floor dwellers support the arboreal life. I personally think that the positives of crown shyness definitely outway the negatives. Crown shyness is for healthy trees afterall.






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