"Tweeting tree" aids research into growth and uptake

Wageningen University & Research have enabled a poplar tree on the Dutch institute's campus to "tweet" about how its growth is being affected by prevailing conditions.

Tweeting in English from the account @TreeWatchWUR, the tree sends messages about the amount of water flowing through its vessels and about how quickly it is growing.

The project is intended to raise public awareness of the interaction between trees and their surroundings, as well as boosting understanding of the physiological processes in trees in relation to weather conditions and the implications of future climate change.

The Wageningen poplar is the fifth twittering tree in Europe, alongside an oak, a maple and a beech in Belgium and a Scots pine in Germany.

They are part of the European collaboration programme COST STReESS (Studying Tree Responses to extreme Events: a SynthesiS) led by Wageningen forest ecologist Dr Ute Sass-Klaassen.

"The aim is to ensure that twittering trees can join existing networks conducting research into growth, nitrogen fixation and water transport in trees," she said.

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