By    Nov. 17, 2018

Way out here in northern Utah, you might say we’ve caught the Pando Populus bug. Though I’ve been conducting ecological research at Pando (and in aspen systems at-large) for many years, it’s only in the last three years that a confluence has been formed between Pando Populus the organization and Pando the forest. Like all good pilgrims, we often feel like we are receiving more than we are giving; still, the relationship has been mutually beneficial and multidimensional.

I recently sat down with Utah Public Radio’s “Undisciplined” host, and Pando Road Trip veteran Matthew LaPlante, to weigh into the hidden connections of a scientific field I know little about—inorganic chemistry—on live radio. The show is predicated on Matthew’s idea of entertainment: to place two scientists on the radio who know little about each other’s disciplines and see what happens. Surprisingly, good things often emerge; and they have a lot to do with linkages that are not immediately visible, but may be critical to our survival on this a planet. Sound familiar? Well, it should for those dialed-in to regular Pando Populus discourse. Indeed, we’re all connected and so are many elements of natural history. Give a listen and let us know what you think:

 

On a larger scale, this radio interview along with nearly 40 other recent media outlets around the world have lit up with the most recent research paper documenting Pando’s (the forest) status. You may view an abbreviated list of that media interest here. While visiting the Western Aspen Alliance website, consider directly contributing to Pando’s recovery by using the Donate button.

Rather than probing the data further, what strikes me as more salient is the question of why the great attention to a lonely, large, leafy organism residing in remote Utah? Why the green wave of public interest now? (Since mid-October, over 11,000 people have viewed the article and 1,200 have downloaded it!) Could it be that people are drawn to hidden connections—in their planet and fellow planetarians? Maybe there is no need to create an “ecological civilization,” perhaps those underlying linkages—like roots of a giant clonal forest—are simply waiting for the light of discovery to shine?

Paul C. Rogers is the Chief Scientist for Pando, the tree, an ecologist, and Director of the Western Aspen Alliance.