Meta-networks of fungi, fauna and flora as agents of complex adaptive systems
The interactions and interconnectedness of the parts and processes in forest ecosystems underlie their nature as complex adaptive systems. The parts – the organisms, species, guilds – interact in networks across different genetic, trophic, spatial and temporal scales and the relationships and feedbacks across these various scales create structure, cohesion and emergent properties (Levin, 2005; Whitham et al., 2006). System memory, or the past structures and events (e.g. genes in seed-banks or old trees; snags or coarse woody debris left from a previous disturbance; perennial fungal genets; migratory bird occupation) and environmental variability (e.g. climate driven disturbances) are also important features of complex adaptive systems because they create and maintain diversity and system dynamics (Anand et al., 2010). As we shall see in this chapter, organisms as different as fungi, trees and woodpeckers, and processes as disparate as disturbance, dispersal, facilitation/competition and nutrient cycling, are related through cross-scale metanetworks (comprised of many individual networks) in the development of healthy functioning interior Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii var. glauca [Beissn.] Franco) forests (Bray, 2003).