World's Largest Organism Under Threat
The race is on to save Utah's Pando tree
Utah's Pando tree is the world's largest living organism; what appears to be an entire forest is in fact an intricately connected root system. But environmental changes are placing the species in peril.
In Utah's Fishlake National Forest, the Pando tree spans the equivalent of 80 football fields. Known as a Quaking Aspen clone, each tree is genetically identical - but as human activity drives predators away, herbivores are able to feed on new Pando saplings, preventing young trees from sprouting. "We have only senior citizens", explains Professor Paul Rogers of the Western Aspen Alliance. "I think it's a reflection of us." For Rogers, the survival of the Pando has a broad significance: "This is a bellwether... of a lot of other environmental or ecological issues."