Thursday, 19 May 2016

Pando: The World’s Oldest Living Organisms



The Pando or “The Trembling Giant” is a massive grove of quaking aspens that takes the “forest as a single organism” metaphor and literalizes it. Although, the grove is a single organism, roughly 47,000 trees are genetically similar having single root system. However, various trees spread through flowering and sexual reproduction; quaking aspens normally reproduce asexually, by sprouting new trees from the expansive lateral root of the parent. So, with their smooth white bark, intense black markings, and tall, thin trunks, aspens are some of the most striking and graceful trees, special varieties possess a very surprising quality. Each separate tree standing above the ground is actually part of one single, enormous plant. Pando is located one mile southwest of Fish Lake on Utah's Route 25, in the Fremont River Ranger District of the Fish-lake National Forest. The Pando aspen clone in Utah is hard to guess age and long-term research would have had to begin when humans were starting to emigrate out of Africa. However, individual trees have a lifespan of somewhere between 200 to 220 years, but clones considered as a single entity can sprawl for acres, all descended from one original tree, and are able to reproduce indefinitely.

Actually, the individual trees aren’t individuals, but their stems of massive single clone. Pando was once believed the largest organism in the world spanning 107 acres and weighing 6,615 tons making it the heaviest known organism, now usurped by thousand acre fungal mats in Oregon. Furthermore experts are also not sure about organism’s age with the level of precision found in tree rings. However, some believes Pando is massive organism and its age is more than one millions years old, could be easily called world’s oldest living organisms. Moreover, the quaking aspen is named its leaves, usually stir without any trouble even in a gentle breeze enable to produce a fluttering sound with slightest provocation. This has impact on Pando’s, multiplied thousands of thousands trees prevalent in massive acres unnerving, giving a real sense of life to the ancient dying, trembling giant. Other things, which can be oldest living organisms, possibly larger fungal mats in Oregon, the ancient clonal Creosote bushes, and strands of the clonal marine plant Posidonia oceanica in the Mediterranean Sea.

According to some ecologist, the future of Pando organisms is in danger due to mature stems is regularly dying from the eternal problems of pests, diseases, drought and regenerative roots of organism are under attacks. Although, The Western Aspen Alliance has been studying the tree in an effort to save it, and the U.S. Forest Service is doing experimenting with numerous five acre sections of it to make an effort to find a means to save it. The roots systems which are mainly responsible for Pando’s resilience are not nourishing. Therefore, ecologists are suggesting of juvenile and young stems to replace the older trunks, blaming overgrazing by animals. The Pando is slipping away due to lack of new growth to replace the old. In fact, the Trembling Giant is vulnerable to a catastrophic, abruptly withering and shrinking. The clone now recognized as Pando was actually discovered in 1968 by researcher “Burton V. Barnes”, who had described Pando as a single organism based on its morphological characteristics alone; molecular techniques and methods developed since that time have largely substantiated those conclusions.

Pando’s needs ideal circumstance of colonizing the area under wet climate into which Pando was born was markedly different from that of these days. Pando is thought to have grown for much of its lifetime under ideal circumstances: frequent forest fires have prevented its main competitor, conifers, from colonizing the area, and a climate shift from wet and humid to semi-arid has obstructed seedling establishment and the accompanying rivalry from younger aspens. Moreover, during intense fires, the organism survived underground, with its root system sending up new stems in the aftermath of each wildfire. If its postulated age is correct, then it may have been as many as 10,000 years since Pando's last successful flowering. The special properties of the quaking aspen, fascination with the beauty, complexity, and continuing mystery of this tree perhaps save clones like Pando from a destiny as firewood.