In Utah, the largest living thing in the world is in danger

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A vibrant ash colony in Utah, USA.
A vibrant ash colony in Utah, USA. WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

The giant who trembles. It is the nickname of Pando, the largest organism in the world. With a weight of more than six thousand tons, Pando is not only a forest, it is a unique organism. This vibrant ash colony in Utah, USA, consists entirely of clones connected by a single root system.

If Pando (meaning "I lay & # 39; means Latin") spreads over 43 hectares, it is due to the specific reproduction system. In the very dry climate of Utah, where the seeds of this species can not germinate, the plant has had to adapt. The forest was mainly formed by new shoots of the same plant, which sprouted from a single seed, at a time when the climate was much wetter. The colony consists of more than 47,000 genetically identical branches.

"Forest tree"

But this unique organism is in danger today, estimates a study published on Wednesday, October 17 in the scientific journal Plos One. A team of researchers from the University of Utah conducted the first full evaluation of the Pando clone. For this she collected aerial photographs of the last seven decades of the colony. And the results reveal a continuous decline of this "forest tree".

According to these documents, the decline in forest restoration began about 35 years ago. While older trees reach the end of their life cycle, young shoots do not survive. "While we are walking in a forest, we always expect to find young animals, says Paul Rogers, professor of ecology and first author of the research. But here there are no more young trees to replace dead trees. "

The intrusion of animals into the wild seems to be the main cause of the interruption of the plant cycle. Deer and elk, which are abundant in the region, love the young shoots of the tree and prevent their growth, "Trembling giant". To prevent this, scientists have placed protective barriers around certain parcels of the forest for two years. According to the study published in Plos One, the protection of these areas is no longer sufficient.