Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Record number 406105
Title Understanding plant rooting patterns in semi-arid systems: an integrated model analysis of climate, soil type and plant biomass
Author(s) Wijk, M.T. van
Source Global Ecology and Biogeography 20 (2011)2. - ISSN 1466-822X - p. 331 - 342.
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1466-8238.2010.00601.x
Department(s) Plant Production Systems
PE&RC
Publication type Refereed Article in a scientific journal
Publication year 2011
Keyword(s) net primary productivity - water extraction - resource depletion - competition - allocation - vegetation - ecosystems - dynamics - traits - growth
Abstract Aim A consistent set of root characteristics for herbaceous plants growing in water-limited environments has been developed based on compilations of global root databases, but an overall analysis of why these characteristics occur is still missing. The central question in this study is whether an ecohydrological model which assumes that rooting strategies reflect maximization of transpiration can predict the variations in rooting strategies of plants in dry environments. Location Arid ecosystems across the globe. Methods A model was used to explore interactions between plant biomass, root–shoot allocation, root distribution, rainfall, soil type and water use by plants. Results Model analyses showed that the predicted shifts in rooting depth and root–shoot allocation due to changes in rainfall, soil type and plant biomass were quite similar to observed shifts. The model predicted that soil type, annual rainfall and plant biomass each had strong effects on the rooting strategies that optimize transpiration, but also that these factors have strong interactive effects. The process by which plants compete for water availability (soil evaporation or drainage) especially affected the depth distribution of roots in the soil, whereas the availability of rainfall mainly affected the optimal root–shoot allocation strategy.Main conclusions The empirically observed key patterns in rooting characteristics of herbaceous plant species in arid environments could be explained in this theoretical study by using the concept of hydrological optimality, represented here by the maximization of transpiration.
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