These days, flames consume many of the earth’s forests more frequently than ever before. Now, a study from Princeton University suggests that trees in traditionally fire-prone areas have a competitive edge for survival: thicker bark, which helps shield their stems from growing conflagrations.
Scientists combined data to compare 572 species of trees: where they live, their bark thickness, and how often fires occur in their area. Researchers found that bark is, on average, three times thicker in savannas — where fires are a natural part of the ecosystem — than in forests. In other words, savanna trees have adapted to cope with their surroundings. read more >>