Root Structure: The Considerable Cost of Belowground Function
since root systems are not a conspicuous feature of the landscape, they have received relatively little attention in ecological studies—particularly in the context of ecosystem function. Root system biomass and, occasionally, the rooting volume and depth of dominant species have traditionally been the only parameters included in studies at the community level. Although no one would deny the important roles played by root systems, the energetic costs of root system development and maintenance in relation to the useful functions performed by these organs have only recently come into focus in ecosystem-level studies. Closely allied to this cost-benefit balance is the question of selective tactics in the structure and growth patterns of root systems.
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