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World's 'largest living thing' is slowly dying

Posted on Thursday, 18 October, 2018 | Comment icon 11 comments

The colony has survived for tens of thousands of years. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Scott Catron
A record-breaking 80,000-year-old clonal colony of aspen trees in central Utah is in danger of being wiped out.
The remarkable natural wonder, which consists of an expanse of more than 40,000 trees, is made up of clones of the same individual aspen meaning that it is considered to be a single living organism.

Also known as the "trembling giant", the colony covers 43 hectares of Utah's Fishlake National Forest.

Sadly however, despite extensive conservation efforts, it is looking as though this magnificent region of forest may be on its way out following years of decline due to human activities and climate change.

In addition to suffering damage from trees being cut down, the colony has been under threat from years of drought in the region as well as from deer and other animals that have intruded upon it.

"After significant investment in protecting the iconic Pando clone, we were disappointed in this result," said ecologist Professor Paul Rogers from Utah State University.

As things stand, the colony may have only a few decades left.

"In addition to ecological values, Pando serves as a symbol of nature-human connectedness and a harbinger of broader species losses," said Professor Rogers.

"It would be a shame to witness the significant reduction of this iconic forest when reversing this decline is realisable, should we demonstrate the will to do so."

Source: Independent | Comments (11)

Tags: Pando, Aspen

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #2 Posted by justin3651 on 18 October, 2018, 16:14
Sounds like mule deer and cattle grazing is the problem based off other articles. Luckily mule deer are delicious and cattle are ok tasting. Time to do some emergency hunting and some emergency cattle slaughter. 
Comment icon #3 Posted by Stiff on 18 October, 2018, 16:16
According to the article...   "Thought to be up to 80,000 years old"
Comment icon #4 Posted by sci-nerd on 18 October, 2018, 16:18
I somehow managed not to see that. Thanks!
Comment icon #5 Posted by OverSword on 18 October, 2018, 17:55
honey fungus measuring 2.4 miles (3.8 km) across in the Blue Mountains in Oregon is thought to be the largest living organism on Earth.
Comment icon #6 Posted by Buzz_Light_Year on 18 October, 2018, 19:08
One of the reason Wolves were re-introduced to Yellowstone as the Elk were browsing unabated and new tree growth was almost non-existent.
Comment icon #7 Posted by Grandpa Greenman on 19 October, 2018, 2:17
  That is sad, the thing has lived for 80,000 years with Native Americans and the white man comes along a kills it in a few hundred years.    
Comment icon #8 Posted by Unfortunately on 19 October, 2018, 3:32
Civilised man would be more accurate,  not specifically white man although we're talking about America. The growth of a human civilisation is detrimental to everything except humans, that's why we've inevitably turned into a parasitic race in comparison to the rest of the animal kingdom. It's unfortunate and I hope we can eventually adapt to a better way of living that's easier on the planet but I'm doubtful we have the ability now that we've left it so late. 
Comment icon #9 Posted by Tatetopa on 19 October, 2018, 3:45
There is a rather sad story about a forester who got his core sampler stuck in a bristlecone pine tree in 1964.  Rangers said, "We have a bunch of those, we'll cut it down and get your sampler back.  The guys name was Donal Curry.  When he counted the rings, he found the tree to be almost 5,000 years old.  They have not found an older one since then.
Comment icon #10 Posted by DieChecker on 19 October, 2018, 10:54
I thought I remembered that too. Maybe this tree colony is more massive, but covers a lot less area?
Comment icon #11 Posted by paperdyer on 23 October, 2018, 18:39
Aspen is a pretty hardy tree. I'm sure the soil has been checked.  After that many years the root systems of the trees may be stealing from each other.  Maybe the species can be saved with cloning of some sort or splicing with another aspen that's younger.

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