The world's largest organism is dying, but there are still ways to save it

(CNN)Behold the Pando aspen clone, a sprawling carpet of vibrant green-yellow quaking aspens occupying more than 100 acres outside the Fishlake National Forest in Utah.

The "Trembling Giant," as it is known, is actually a massive single organism connected by one sprawling root system. This ancient marvel of nature is thousands of years old -- scientists don't know exactly how old -- and is considered the largest living organism on Earth.
Unfortunately, it's also dying. And humans may be responsible.

An ancient forest degraded over decades

    To be clear, according to new research published in PLOS One, it isn't necessarily human disregard or negligence that has threatened the Trembling Giant. It's the herbivorous ungulates, aka the deer and cattle that graze in the area, that we allow to graze among the Pando's trees.
    "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 study says.
    Grazing species like the mule deer are thought to be degrading the Pando aspen system.
    "This all relates back to human decisions," Paul Rogers, the author of the study, told CNN. Rogers is an adjunct professor at Utah State University and the Director of the Western Aspen Alliance.
    "Even though wildlife are involved, humans govern the number an