One of the World's Largest Organisms Is Slowly Dying Due to Humans
21 Octobre, 2018, 18:53 | Auteur: Therese Cote
Researchers in Utah say what many consider to be the world's largest living organism is dying but could be saved with what they call a "mega-conservation" effort. Also an adjunct faculty member with the Utah State Wildland Resources Department, he advises "One clear lesson emerges here: we can not independently manage wildlife and forests". "In addition to ecological values, Pando serves as a symbol of nature-human connectedness and a harbinger of broader species losses." said ecologist Paul Rogers.
The vast expanse is assumed to have one connected underground root system and is thought to be approximately 80,000 years old. "While several human alterations to this forest have taken place in recent decades, it is the lack of simultaneous herbivore regulation that has caused this stand's degeneration". The 106-acre cluster consists of male aspens, which are known for supporting a very high level of biodiversity, and many animals depend on it for survival.
A study of Pando published in PLOS ONE has shared, "Aspen forests (chiefly Populus tremuloides, P. tremula) are among the most widespread tree systems in the world, yet their sustainability is threatened by human-induced impacts such as warming climates, development, fire suppression, and unchecked herbivory". Their grazing caused fewer new saplings to grow, resulting in old, dying trees.
The Pando decline is also attributed in part to cattle and mule deer, which are moving into the colony because of human activity. There are not enough fences set up to keep the wildlife from going into the colony, and people's decisions to build cabins and open campgrounds have also contributed to the shrinking, The New York Times reported. In the early 20th century, hunters had exterminated here, wolves and grizzly bears - the natural predators of mule deer which in turn, feed on young aspen shoots. "They send a hormonal signal whenever one of them dies to spread from the roots, not from seed".
Rogers and his colleague examined a 72-year series of aerial photographs that revealed the forest's decline, which showed that it has thinned over time as humans have expanded into it by cutting down trees. "Where is the next generation?" Maybe Pando just outcompeted other trees.Pando isn't alone: there are other groves of single-clone aspens in North America that dominate their landscape, though none as massive.
To protect the trees, in 2013 part of the grove was fenced, and in five years there grew up thousands of new stems with a height of 3-5 meters.
People have allowed the local deer and cattle population to thrive, Rogers said.
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