Turnover of Root Systems

  • W. K. Lauenroth
  • R. Gill
Part of the Ecological Studies book series (ECOLSTUD, volume 168)


Turnover of tissues is a fundamental process that operates continuously in all vascular plants. In some, especially those in seasonal environments, entire organs may be shed at the end of the growing season. Winter or drought deciduous trees are a clear example of this process. Herbaceous plants may also episodically lose all or most of their aboveground organs at the onset of a cold or dry season, but most of them also undergo continuous replacement of leaves throughout a growing season (Larcher 1995; Lambers et al. 1998). Many grasses are specifically adapted to withstand high turnover of their above-ground organs be it by grazing, fire, or drought because of their evolutionary histories of exposure to such selection pressures (Mack and Thompson 1982; Coughenour 1985; Milchunas et al. 1988). In the case of deciduous trees, turnover of the canopy is 100% per year. Similarly, grasses in seasonal environments often have essentially 100 % canopy turnover per year.


Root System Fine Root Root Production Fine Root Production Root Turnover 
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  • W. K. Lauenroth
  • R. Gill

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