Speak nature’s language at Forest Feedback panel next week
  • Thursday 21 March 2019

These days, we’re all familiar with the world wide web. But what about the ecological world wide web?

What do you know about the threads of communication that hold our natural systems together?

On Friday March 29, a group of diverse scientists and artists participating in the Mary Cairncross BioBlitz will come together for a special Q&A evening and share their insights into biocommunication.

Environment Portfolio Councillor Jenny McKay finds these questions fascinating and said this panel event aligns with Sunshine Coast Council’s vision to be Australia’s most sustainable region – healthy, smart, creative.

“The Forest Feedback discussion is a wonderful opportunity for our community to learn more about how interconnected the natural world is,” Cr McKay said.

“I believe it will be the pinnacle of the four-day BioBlitz event.

“We are incredibly fortunate to have so many expert scientists with such varied specialties come to our own backyard to participate in the BioBlitz survey and share their knowledge through this educational evening panel.”

Representing the Queensland Mycological Society (QMS), mycologist (fungal biologist) and Woodfordia’s Environmental Projects Officer, Dr Sandra Tuszynska, is excited to discuss with fellow scientists the concept of the forest as a superorganism.

“As biologists, we tend to look at the miniscule intricacies of how an organism works, often under a microscope,” said Dr Tuszynska.

“However, we should be collectively looking at the broader picture.

“If we work together and study how the rainforest’s flora and fauna species communicate with one another, we’re likely to find many more answers about both their interdependence on one another and their individual crucial role in the forest.

“This BioBlitz will provide an opportunity for us to not only research and potentially discover new varieties of species living in this beautiful rainforest, but also to collaborate on understanding how they are all connected and constantly ‘speaking’ with one another.

“My focus is on the mycelium, the vegetative part of root symbiotic fungi, which consists of a vast network of fine threads or filaments, made up of individual fungal cells living symbiotically on and within most plant roots.  

“While delicate and largely unseen, the mycelium acts as a communication and nutrient transfer superhighway across entire forests, giving rise to the concept of the ‘wood wide web.’

“Yet, it is literally only one example of biocommunication in this large rainforest.”

At the Forest Feedback panel, Dr Tuszynska will join six scientists and artists, including Dr Barclay and Jinibara Traditional Owner Jason Murphy. Together with the audience they will discuss these networks of mycelium beneath the forest soil, insect acoustics, how country signals to its people and other modes of communication the rainforest uses on a daily basis.

All are welcome to the Forest Feedback discussion on Friday March from 6-9pm at the Maleny Community Centre. Tickets are $15 and registration is required. Head to council’s events website to secure your spot.

Wildlife enthusiasts should also mark the other BioBlitz events in their calendars, including sunrise pademelon counts, nature journaling, and a night-time bat walk, from March 28-31. To learn more, please visit council’s website.

The Mary Cairncross BioBlitz is funded by gold coin donations from visitors to the reserve.


Image: Botanist Andrew Franks will focus on byrophytes (moss, liverworts and hornworts) at the Mary Cairncross BioBlitz. Photo by May-Le Ng.