Rooting strategies in a subtropical savanna: a landscape-scale three-dimensional assessment. Academic Article uri icon


  • In resource-limited savannas, the distribution and abundance of fine roots play an important role in acquiring essential resources and structuring vegetation patterns and dynamics. However, little is known regarding the three-dimensional distribution of fine roots in savanna ecosystems at the landscape scale. We quantified spatial patterns of fine root density to a depth of 1.2m in a subtropical savanna landscape using spatially specific sampling. Kriged maps revealed that fine root density was highest at the centers of woody patches, decreased towards the canopy edges, and reached lowest values within the grassland matrix throughout the entire soil profile. Lacunarity analyses indicated that spatial heterogeneities of fine root density decreased continuously to a depth of 50cm and then increased in deeper portions of the soil profile across this landscape. This vertical pattern might be related to inherent differences in root distribution between trees/shrubs and herbaceous species, and the presence/absence of an argillic horizon across this landscape. The greater density of fine roots beneath woody patches in both upper and lower portions of the soil profile suggests an ability to acquire disproportionately more resources than herbaceous species, which may facilitate the development and persistence of woody patches across this landscape.

published proceedings

  • Oecologia

altmetric score

  • 1

author list (cited authors)

  • Zhou, Y., Boutton, T. W., Wu, X. B., Wright, C. L., & Dion, A. L.

citation count

  • 8

complete list of authors

  • Zhou, Yong||Boutton, Thomas W||Wu, X Ben||Wright, Cynthia L||Dion, Anais L

publication date

  • April 2018