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The largest organism in the world has survived relatively unnoticed within the Fishlake National Forest in Utah. Now, researchers are concerned that this organism, 1,000's of years old, is dying.
The organism is named Pando, Latin for I spread, and is a massive grove of quaking aspens. You have seen quaking aspens if you've visited the mountains of Colorado. They are known for their bright yellow color in the fall and make a quaking sound as wind passes through their leaves.
Aspens have the unique ability to produce genetically identical offspring through offshoots from their root system. Through their ability to multiply asexually through their root system, Aspens tend to colonize large swaths of land through a shared root system.
That is exactly what happened in Richfield, Utah, where a grove of 47,000 aspens all originate from a single male parent aspen, sharing an identical genetic makeup. The single male aspen genetically cloned itself and has been doing so for thousands of years.
The team specifically found that the grove of aspens hasn't been able to effectively replace its aging and dying trees. The grove of 47,000 trees has remained for thousands of years partially because the single organism has been able to supply trees at every stage of an aspen's life, helping it to be resistant to external threats. However, grazing animals have threatened Pando's ability to produce young offspring to replace dying trees.
originally posted by: Mahogany
originally posted by: highvein
a reply to: Grik123
This is the way it has always been. Life dies off, new life will arise.
I can't remember the exact number, but the Earth has been through extinction level events before. Life always finds a way.
Life WILL find a way.
We may not be among it though.
Many of the natural predators of the mule deer have been removed from Utah. Without predators to keep their numbers in check, the mule deer population can grow so large that they have trouble finding enough food. This also causes them to come into contact with people more often, leading to deaths from being hit by cars, and similar accidents.
Invasive plants and the lack of sage brush are also threatening their survival.
originally posted by: ManyMasks
I was recently under the impression the largest organism was the honey fungus.
And they eat trees for snacks.