Any serious effort to understand the complex relationships and interactions of the forest ecosystem with all its different environmental factors must include the observation of mycorrhiza in their natural habitat. Only through such observations is it possible to learn about the whole range of variability over time and space and to deduce criteria for assessment and the interpretation of changes. Here, the root window has proved a very useful technique.

Research nowadays seems to neglect pure observation as a means of study. Perhaps it is a sign of the times that we no longer have time or patience for such things. Again, simple observation is often rejected as a scientific research method, or at least is not recognized as such, mainly because it is difficult to verify the findings statistically. Yet such judgements are not justified if we look at the past findings of famous scientists: for instance, Frank's descriptions of mycorrhiza, dating from 1885, are astonishingly precise and still furnish a great deal of information. Observation must naturally go hand in hand with experimentation, and the two approaches must be combined if we are to gain more knowledge in this field.

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