Optimal root profiles in water-limited ecosystems


Journal Article

The vertical distribution of roots in the soil is of central importance to the mass and energy exchange between the land and the atmosphere. It has been demonstrated that the vertical root profiles which maximize transpiration in numerical experiments reflect well the characteristics of root profiles observed in nature for water-limited ecosystems. Previous research has demonstrated how the optimal vertical root profile depends on both the mean annual precipitation (MAP) and the soil texture. Recently, in the climate literature, it has been suggested Chou et al. (2012) [5] that increased greenhouse forcing in the tropics can lead to a simultaneous decrease in the frequency and increase in the intensity of precipitation. In this paper we demonstrate how such a change in the statistical structure of rainfall, even with no change to MAP, requires deeper root distributions to maintain optimal water use. These results raise interesting questions for future studies of nutrient dynamics, the cost of additional below ground carbon allocation, and inter plant functional type competition. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Rudd, K; Albertson, JD; Ferrari, S

Published Date

  • January 1, 2014

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 71 /

Start / End Page

  • 16 - 22

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0309-1708

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.advwatres.2014.04.021

Citation Source

  • Scopus