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Extreme drought alters the vertical distribution but not the total amount of grassland root biomass
  • +14
  • Yunlong Zhang,
  • Chong Xu,
  • Jie Wang,
  • Tian Yang,
  • Yuguang Ke,
  • Honghui Wu,
  • Xiaoan Zuo,
  • Wentao Luo,
  • Melinda Smith,
  • Elizabeth Borer,
  • Iain Hartley,
  • Ingrid J. Slette,
  • Wenping Yuan,
  • Minggang Xu,
  • Xing-Guo Han,
  • Guirui Yu,
  • Qiang Yu
Yunlong Zhang
CAAS
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Yuguang Ke
Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences Institute of Agricultural Resources and Regional Planning
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Honghui Wu
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Xiaoan Zuo
Agriculture and ecology research department, Cold and Arid Regions of Environmental and Engineering Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences
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Wentao Luo
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Melinda Smith
Colorado State University
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Elizabeth Borer
University of Minnesota
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Iain Hartley
Exeter
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Ingrid J. Slette
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Wenping Yuan
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Minggang Xu
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Xing-Guo Han
State Key Laboratory of Vegetation and Environmental Change
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Guirui Yu
Information Management Group for the Synthesis Center of Chinese Ecosystem Research Network (CERN)
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Qiang Yu
Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences Institute of Agricultural Resources and Regional Planning
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Abstract

Extreme drought impacts ecosystem function and processes dramatically. However, a comprehensive understanding of how extreme drought affects root biomass at regional scales remains elusive. Here, we investigated the effects across six grasslands with extreme drought treatment replicated across a precipitation gradient in Inner Mongolia, China. We found the root biomass and belowground net primary productivity (BNPP) were significantly positively correlated with precipitation at the reginal scale. Extreme drought decreased the slope of this correlation in 0-10 cm and increased in 10-20 cm. Root biomass and BNPP increased by extreme drought in the four relatively arid sites and decreased in the two relatively mesic sites in 0-10 cm, and the reverse pattern showed in 10-20 cm. These shifts were driven by the response of soil moisture. Our findings suggest that including vertical responses of belowground primary productivity to extreme drought should improve models predictions of plant roots to future climate change.