At first glance, you should keep Pando for a normal piece of wood. On the huge Area near the Fish Lake in the U.S. state of Utah, the aspen after the aspen – a total of about 47,000 trees.

But in fact, it is a single living creature of superlatives: The trees are connected genetically identical and underground roots – researchers speak of a so-called Genet. In addition, the plant is ancient collective, its origins date back at least 80,000 years.

Pando is the heaviest and oldest known living organisms on the earth. And according to the scientist Paul Rogers it is the “considered to be the most well-known organism in the world”.

REUTERS environmental protection: Booming the economy, also grows in the forest

However, according to his new study, the forest is seriously threatened. “Now it is collapsing before our eyes,” said Rogers, who conducts research at Utah State University. The main reason for mule deer and other herbivores, the first Pandos tree shoots promise.

Together with his colleagues McAvoy Darren looked at Rogers for the first time, the entire colony of American aspen. Their results the researchers published in the journal “Plos One”. The forest grows on 43 acres. Pando is Latin and means “I spread”.

The Aspen trees as well, such as black locust transverse growing roots that form at certain intervals a new sprout, which grows into a tree. The poplar buds are deer good forage for grazing animals, elk, or mule.

many years ago, animals would have eaten almost all the young tree shoots, reports Rogers. The perimeter of the smaller piece in the year 2013, has delivered to researchers information on this special area first promising results. A larger fenced-in area have, however, brought nothing, as the new study showed. “After a significant investment in the protection of the iconic Pando clone we are very disappointed with the result,” says Rogers. “Specially-foot table, deer seem to find a way through weak spots in the fence or jump over the eight foot (2.4 m) high fence.”

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There is a clear message, says Rogers: “We can’t manage wild animals and forests independent of each other.” Herbivores increased, if there were no wolves, and other predators. In addition, hunters often had a high number. It had to happen, the number of animals is reduced or fences to be improved.

Whether Pando is actually the largest and heaviest living things on earth, is in the research is quite controversial. From the world of botany organisms are known, for example, the life at least on a still larger area. It was discovered years ago in the Malheur National Forest in Oregon, an Armillaria fungus, which covers about 900 hectares.

The botanist Stefan Dressler from the Senckenberg research Institute in Frankfurt am Main, is also sceptical as to whether it is in the case of Pando, in fact, a clone, so that all of the trees. “How will you prove, that a part is separated?” Such trees could help in the case of drought each other, but generally speaking, each tree was individually capable of. Also, don’t be also not sure that there is somewhere a larger such a Tree network.

of course, but herbivores are a threat to the rung, said Dressler. Also in Germany there is dense Livestock no rejuvenation in the forest, when hunters and foresters would not help.

joe/dpa

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