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Mapping the global distribution of deep roots in relation to climate and soil characteristics

Schenk, HJ, RB Jackson
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Global data sets of rooting depths, long-term means of monthly precipitation and potential evapotranspiration, and soil texture were used to predict the probability of deep rooting around the globe. Rooting depths were considered to be deep if 5% or more of all roots in a profile were located below 2 m depth. Spatially explicit global predictions were based on empirical models relating the probability of deep rooting with climate and soil texture. Based on these predictions, deep roots are most likely to occur in seasonally dry, semi-arid to humid tropical regions under savanna or thorn-scrub vegetation or under seasonally dry semi-deciduous to evergreen forests. Deep roots are least likely to occur in arctic, boreal or cool-temperate regions and in per-humid climates such as equatorial rain forests. These observations agree well with predictions based on a previously published conceptual model, according to which water infiltration depths and evaporative demand are the main climatic factors to determine vertical root distributions on a global scale.

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