Symbiosis Series

2020

Prints 10" x 11.5"

Book 11" x 9.5"

This series and the subsequent book which I created from the prints was inspired by reading “Entangled Life” by Merlin Sheldrake. One theme of the book, bodies entangled and thriving codependently, seemed especially germane during this time of Covid. As we were stuck in our homes reliant on each other for entertainment and emotional support, it became clear that our comingled life was a reflection of a greater symbiosis in nature. The series is an exploration of the natural world and the amazing symbiosis found within.    

Mycorrhizals

Mycorrhizals are symbiotic relationships between certain fungi and the roots of plants. The fine fungal threads (hyphae) either penetrate or wrap around a root of a host. The fungi help extract nutrients and water from the soil and can protect the plant against harmful organisms. In return the fungi receive glucose via the plant’s photosynthesis.

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Cyanobacteria

Cyanobacteria are organelles thought to be the result of a symbiosis formed billions of years ago, when one bacterium began living within another. This symbiosis enabled the cyanobacteria to subsist by converting sunlight to food. Recent studies suggest that algae with bacterial genetic origins are the closest genetic relative to plants. Thus cyanobacteria symbiotically infiltrated the algae and created tendrils which eventually were the first plants to grow on land. 

Nature's Sorrows: Columbine

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Lichens

Lichens are organisms of fungus and alga and are commonly found on rocks and trees. The fungal partner forms the solid visible structure while the alga provides energy through photosynthesis. This unique alliance is called endosymbiosis and describes one organism living within the cell or body of another. 

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Badgers and Yews

Endozoochory is the property of fruit-bearing plants’ dependence on animals to propagate. Once the animals defecate, the seed is dispersed to a new location. Some seeds, including the yew tree, have a pulp that inhibits the seed from germinating until it has been scarred by stomach acids. The yew seed is deadly to humans and mammals except for the badger which eats the fleshy covering of the seed with no ill-affect and disperses the yew.

Aphids and Ants

The nests of woods ants create a safe environment for aphids by protecting them from predators. In return, the ants stroke the aphids stimulating a release of waste product known as honeydew. This liquid is a source of nutrition and energy for the ants.

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Ravens and Wolves

The reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park uncovered a unique symbiosis. Naturalists observed that although ravens were consuming up to one third of the carcasses that wolves killed, their presence was tolerated by the pack. Naturalists also noticed that ravens often vocally alerted the wolves to nearby prey, circling overhead until the pack arrived. This symbiosis ensures that wolves find prey for their pack as well as food for the ravens’ consumption.

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