Plant diversity and drought: The role of deep roots

Lindh M, Zhang L, Falster D, Franklin O, & Brannstrom A (2014). Plant diversity and drought: The role of deep roots. Ecological Modelling 290: 85-93. DOI:10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2014.05.008.

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Abstract

Extreme temperatures and droughts in the wake of climate change potentially threaten plant diversity. A strategy that plants use to improve survival during seasonal drought is to establish deep roots, aptly named tap roots for their ability to tap into groundwater. Little is known, however, about the role of deep roots in maintaining plant diversity. Here, we extend an established model of plants canopies by Iwasa et al. (1985), in which plants of different heights compete for light, to allow strategic investments in an optional tap root. We investigate how emerging diversity varies with water table depth, soil water gradient and drought-induced mortality rate. Having a tap root enables plants to reach deep water, thus reducing mortality, but also carries a construction cost, thus inducing a tradeoff. We find (1) that tap roots maintain plant diversity under increasing drought mortality, (2) that tap roots evolve when ground water is accessible at low to intermediate depths, (3) no viable strategies at high drought mortality and deep water table, and (4) Red Queen evolutionary dynamics in mixed communities with and without tap root.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Tap root; Drought; Diversity; Light competition; Evolution; Adaptive dynamics
Research Programs: Evolution and Ecology (EEP)
Ecosystems Services and Management (ESM)
Bibliographic Reference: Ecological Modelling; 290:85-93 (24 October 2014) (Published online 27 June 2014)
Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 08:50
Last Modified: 14 Sep 2016 10:02
URI: http://pure.iiasa.ac.at/10853

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