Pando (tree) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopediahttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pando_%28tree%292 of 31/24/07 2:58 AM
Pando was discovered by Burton Barnes of the University of Michigan in the 1970s, and studied in detail in 1992 by Michael Grant of the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Size and age
The clone encompasses 43 hectares (107 acres) and has around 47,000 trunks, which continuallydie and are renewed by its roots. The trunks are connected together by its root system. The averageage of Pando's trunks (or technically, stems) is 130 years, as deciphered by tree rings. MichaelGrant in
...quaking aspen regularly reproduces via a process called suckering. An individualstem can send out lateral roots that, under the right conditions, send up other erectstems; from all aboveground appearances the new stems look just like individualtrees. The process is repeated until a whole stand, of what appear to be individualtrees, forms. This collection of multiple stems, called ramets, all form one single,genetic individual, usually termed a clone.
In comparison to Pando's most widely held total age of 80,000 years, the most accepted view among current anthropologists is that
first migrated out of Africa to Eurasia and Oceania only 40,000 years ago, and finally to the Americas 10,000 yearsago.
Some experts speculate that Pando's reign since 1992 as the heaviest organism in existence may beshort-lived. Less well-studied Quaking Aspen in Utah may be 80 ha in size and one million years inage, and other large colonies could exist elsewhere. A clonal colony of at least 7 Coastal Redwoodcould weigh more,
although no such stand is known to exist. Other scientists feel that portionsof Pando's root system may be dead and might have led the plant to split into separate groups, andthus would not be one organism, though the collective groups would remain the same singulargenetic individual.Tree experts also note that the organism's age cannot be determined with the level of precisionfound in tree rings; some claim Pando's age is closer to 1 million years
. Its current 80,000 yearsdesignation is based on a complex set of factors including the history of its local environmentsuch as, the evidence indicating that there are few if any naturally occurring new aspens in most of the western United States since a climate shift took place 10,000 years ago and eliminatedfavorable soil conditions for seedlings, the rate of growth (including the differences of rates indistinct climates when accounting for its local climate history, that males grow slower thanfemales, and that aspen grow slower at higher elevations with Pando at 2697 m or 8,848 ft abovesea level), its size, and its genetic code in comparison to the mutations found among aspens born in the modern era. Michael Grantsummed it thus:
Despite enormous crops of viable seeds, successful seedling establishment appears to be a rare event in the semiaridWest, but the establishment of new trees from seeds appears to be common in the moist, humid forests of NewEngland... aspen establishment from seeds probably has not occurred in the western United States since the lastglaciation, some 10,000 years ago... Part of the rationale behind current age estimates for aspen clones is thatsexual reproduction is effectively frustrated by the rarity of a favorable suite of conditions in semiaridenvironments... High levels of genetic variation and excesses of heterozygotes are found in [the aspen of] semiaridenvironments... Clonal reproduction is more common in arid environments... Heterozygotes often exhibit superiorlongevity in forest trees [across many species]... growth rate of aspen decline with elevation, steepness of slope,age of the ramet, and exposure to wind... growth rate decreased dramatically with elevation... The researchersreported that the area of the female clones was 41% greater than males, the number of female ramets 52% greater, andthe basal area of females 56% greater [when compared at the same age and environment]...
Other candidates for oldest living organism include possibly older fungal mats in Oregon, older Creosote Bushes, and strands of themarine plant
in the Mediterranean Sea.
The trunk or stem of a QuakingAspenQuaking Aspen in Utah