Root profiles and the ecological effect of light rainshowers in arid and semiarid regions

Sala, O.E.; Lauenroth, W.K.

American Midland Naturalist 114(2): 406-408

1985


ISSN/ISBN: 0003-0031
DOI: 10.2307/2425617
Accession: 001453347

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Abstract
A previous study reported results from an evaluation of root biomass under nine vegetation types in Montana [USA] and concluded that since root biomass in the top 1-cm soil layer was low, this should be taken as evidence that light rainshowers are of little value to plants. The objective of this note is to present an analysis which will test the generality of this conclusion. Our calculations for a range of sites showed that even under very dry conditions, a 5-mm rainshower should wet the root zone and become a potential soil water resource for plants. Furthermore, basing our assertion on root morphology and the distribution of roots in the soil, we suggest that the value of light rainshowers to plants may vary with their life form.