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Pando, the world's largest organism, is dying thanks to humans – Quartz

At first glance, Pando is unimpressive. If you are not looking for it, you could easily drive past the homogenous…

At first glance, Pando is unimpressive. If you are not looking for it, you could easily drive past the homogenous forest of stems ranging from a few inches to some 100 feet tall-the largest they appear more like trunks-, all with matching leaves, on One of the few roads leading to Fish Lake in southern Utah.

But if you do pull over on your way up to the lake, you can recognize that you are standing in front of world’s largest living organism, a colony of over 47,000 identical, quivering cedar trees, all connected by a single root system voltage over 100 acres. Scientists believe it is the world’s largest single organism. When my partner and I stopped in front of last week, Pando’s leaves had all turned yellow for the fall. It was snowing and serene, and both a humble and humbling sight.

Benjamin Daniels

Walking in Pando.

Scientists are not sure how long Pando has been alive, but estimates that place its birth somewhere between 80,000 years and over a million years ago. Individual stems can live longer than 130 years. De doden van een stem signalen voor het root systeem dat het tijd is om te groeien. Like the hairs on our heads, the ages of each identical voice vary, so the colony remains robust even if a few die.

And yet, its days may be dwindling. A recent study from Utah ecologists suggests that for the past 40 years, Pando has not been able to regrow its stems effectively.

“Paul Rogers, an ecologist Utah State University who co-authored the paper, told Earther. Nearby ranchers have allowed their cattle to roam and snacked forever on young stems, and as human populations have grown in the area, their hunting has decreased for safety reasons. But thriving deer populations wreck havoc on young cedar stems. For the past 40 years, Rogers and Darren McAvoy, also at Utah State University, studied aerial footage of the tree system dating back to 1939, and saw that clearing cedar stems for human development has caused Pando to stop regrowing in some areas for three to four decades. They also surveyed parts of Pando from 2016 to 2017 to look at the overall health of the tree, and used scat as evidence of deer and cattle intrusion.

A few areas of Pando were experimentally enclosed in fences in 2013 and 2014; These showed signs of much healthier regrowth. To help Pando survive the long haul, humans will need to set up more thorough and better fencing, cull some of the deer, and make sure cattle are not grazing in the area, Rogers told the New York Times (paywall). [19659002] Saving Pando would be a feat for conservation; Hvis forskerne er i stand til at beskytte denne ene koloni, vil de sandsynligvis være i stand til at anvende lignende taktik til at beskytte andre endangerede forest økosystemer. På den annen side, dets død ville være en stor mangel på at beskytte en af ​​Jordens bemærkelsesværdige former for livet, som har eksisteret for længere end moderne menneskehed.

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