We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Trees, Truffles, and Beasts

How Forests Function

Chris Maser, Andrew W Claridge, and James Trappe

Publication Year: 2008

In today's world of specialization, people are attempting to protect the Earth's fragile state by swapping limousines for hybrids and pesticide-laced foods for organic produce. At other times, environmental awareness is translated into public relations gimmicks or trendy commodities. Moreover, simplistic policies, like single-species protection or planting ten trees for every tree cut down, are touted as bureaucratic or industrial panaceas.

Because today's decisions are tomorrow's consequences, every small effort makes a difference, but a broader understanding of our environmental problems is necessary to the development of sustainable ecosystem policies. In Trees, Truffles, and Beasts, Chris Maser, Andrew W. Claridge, and James M. Trappe make a compelling case that we must first understand the complexity and interdependency of species and habitats from the microscopic level to the gigantic. Comparing forests in the Pacific Northwestern United States and Southeastern mainland of Australia, the authors show how easily observable speciesùtrees and mammalsùare part of a complicated infrastructure that includes fungi, lichens, and organisms invisible to the naked eye, such as microbes.

Eminently readable, this important book shows that forests are far more complicated than most of us might think, which means simplistic policies will not save them. Understanding the biophysical intricacies of our life-support systems just might.

Published by: Rutgers University Press

Title Page, Copyright

pdf iconDownload PDF (98.2 KB)


pdf iconDownload PDF (56.9 KB)
pp. vii-ix

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (48.2 KB)
pp. xi-xiv

We depend on forests, yet we know less about them than we should. Forests are thought by many to be economic engines, providing wood for construction and fuel and wood chips for paper. Even as tourists we view forests as a vista of trees, cloaking mountains...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (43.8 KB)
pp. xv-xvi

Save America’s Forests, Collins Pine (one of the Collins Companies), Mendocino Redwood Company, and Patagonia, Inc., all consider the world’s forests to be of such critical importance to humanity that they were willing to come together to help fund our book. In addition, Henry Trione, Sue Johnston, and Keith Olsen have...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (178.1 KB)
pp. 1-13

We have joined to address the ever-unfolding story of forest development on two disparate continents—North America and Australia. Chris, an American, has research experience in North America, Europe...

read more

Chapter 1: The Forest We See

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.4 MB)
pp. 14-34

When we think of an indigenous, old forest, we may picture a landscape of trees as far as the eye can see. Massive trunks with thick bark give rise to a canopy of branches and foliage that shuts out the sky two hundred to three hundred feet (61 to 91 meters) above the ground...

read more

Chapter 2: The Unseen Forest

pdf iconDownload PDF (251.1 KB)
pp. 35-49

The visible part of a forest may occupy a vertical space of up to 300 feet, or even more in some types of forests, where overstory trees can be huge. In contrast, the unseen part in the soil is compressed into a few vertical feet or yards (meters). Soil is the crucible in which the abiotic and biotic...

read more

Chapter 3: Trees, Truffles, and Beasts: Coevolution in Action

pdf iconDownload PDF (625.6 KB)
pp. 50-74

In this chapter, we explore the kinds of forest fungi that have evolved, their role in forest ecosystems, and especially their interactions with the other forest organisms and the feedback loops so common to these interactions. Our primary example will be the trees, truffl es, and...

read more

Chapter 4: Of Animals and Fungi

pdf iconDownload PDF (173.3 KB)
pp. 75-91

Bettongs, potoroos, wallabies, and eucalypts; voles, squirrels, deer, and firs—the first group is Australian, the second North American. Despite their striking diff erences and locations on opposite sides of the Earth, each group interacts with truffles and tree-truffl e relationships in much the same way. Some of the animals have coevolved with the truffl es, others...

read more

Chapter 5: The Importance of Mycophagy

pdf iconDownload PDF (261.0 KB)
pp. 92-104

Mycophagy brings together trees, fungi, and animals in unseen interactions that profoundly affect the overall functioning of a forest. As such, mycophagy exemplifies the innumerable seen and unseen interactions that proceed simultaneously in a forest, where together they provide the myriad feedback loops and subsequent diversity needed for forest health...

read more

Chapter 6: Landscape Patterns and Fire

pdf iconDownload PDF (613.5 KB)
pp. 105-144

When considering system-altering disturbances, we must recognize what sets us apart from our fellow creatures. It is not some higher sense of spirituality or some nobler sense of purpose, but rather that we deem ourselves wise in our own eyes. Therein lies the fallacy. We are neither...

read more

Chapter 7: Forest Succession and Habitat Dynamics

pdf iconDownload PDF (426.6 KB)
pp. 145-174

Besides the obvious cataclysms, minute pathogenic organisms can attack a forest unseen, but with equally devastating eff ects. In addition, through tinkering with a disturbance regime, we can change the trajectory of an ecosystem, such as a forest, by altering the kinds and arrangement...

read more

Chapter 8: Of Lifestyles and Shared Habitats

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.9 MB)
pp. 175-224

In discussing the lifestyles and shared habitats of those creatures that perform the free ecosystem services required by us humans, we will contrast the fungus eaters (mycophagists) of two forests in northwestern Oregon (USA) and two forests in Australia. It is our intent to help...

read more

Chapter 9: Lessons from the Trees, the Truffles, and the Beasts

pdf iconDownload PDF (176.7 KB)
pp. 225-232

Drawing lessons from interactions among trees, belowground fungi, and forest animals and relating them to the policies and practices of forest management may seem a stretch at first glance. But remember, this group of organisms is simply our surrogate to represent the myriad...

Appendix A: North American Common and Scientific Names

pdf iconDownload PDF (66.9 KB)
pp. 233-236

Appendix B: Australian Common and Scientific Names

pdf iconDownload PDF (66.4 KB)
pp. 237-240


pdf iconDownload PDF (205.5 KB)
pp. 241-258


pdf iconDownload PDF (111.7 KB)
pp. 259-266


pdf iconDownload PDF (151.1 KB)
pp. 267-280

About the Authors

pdf iconDownload PDF (58.9 KB)
pp. 281

E-ISBN-13: 9780813544656
E-ISBN-10: 0813544653
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813542256

Page Count: 304
Illustrations: 109
Publication Year: 2008

Research Areas


UPCC logo

Subject Headings

  • Forest ecology -- Australia.
  • Forest ecology.
  • Forest ecology -- United States.
  • You have access to this content
  • Free sample
  • Open Access
  • Restricted Access