Pando tree colony in Utah's Fishlake National Forest – considered to be the largest organism on earth – is likely…
Pando tree colony in Utah’s Fishlake National Forest – considered to be the largest organism on earth – is likely to disappear.
Paul Rogers and Darren McAvoy, researcher at Utah State University, examined a 72-year series of aerial photos for a paper, published on Wednesday in the PLOS One magazine. They decided that a combination of human activity and lack of herbivorous regulation had caused the colony to shrink.
Pando contains about 47,000 genetically identical trees – all cloned from an original – and are probably thousands of years old. The 106 hectare cluster consists of male aspens, which are known to support a very high level of biodiversity, and many animals are dependent on it for survival. Globally, aspirations of several artificial phenomena, including warming and fire fighting, are threatened.
The Pando decline has also been attributed partly to cattle and mule deer moving into the colony because of human activity. When these animals are bitten, they can make it harder for new trees to grow.
But there is not enough fence for wildlife to enter the colony, and people’s decision to build cottages and open campsites has also helped shrink, the New York Times reported. In addition to this, people have removed animals like wolves, which were previously found in the mule deer.
According to the US Department of Agriculture, insects such as bark beetles and diseases like root rot also attack some of the Pando trees.
Rogers and McAvoy predicted that the 1
06-acre Pando colony would continue to be smaller if better management systems were not implemented. The organism may decrease as older trees die and younger grow too slowly to replace them.
“If this were a community of people, it would be as if a whole city of 47,000 only had 85-year-olds in it,” Rogers told The Times. “Where’s the next generation?”
Pando can regenerate, but it can not bounce without keeping wildlife out.
Rogers told the times to save Pando can help people figure out how to save as many as thousands of species around the world. And the plan is not hopeless – already trees have grown significantly in a part of Pando where the fence has been installed, the newspaper reported.
But Rogers and many other researchers oppose setting fences around the colony. Rogers told the Science magazine that he would not want to visit an iconic place like Pando just to watch the fence.
Instead, Rogers said he would drive to throw the population of deer around Pando.
“The real problem,” Rogers said Science, “is that there are too many mouths to feed in this area.”