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Investigating Woody-Grass Interactions in Savannas

  • Author(s): Fischella, Michael Raymond
  • Advisor(s): Okin, Gregory S
  • et al.
Abstract

Savannas are an important environment that make up over one fifth of the planet’s terrestrial area, but our current understanding of the ecohydrological mechanisms that produce this woody-grass coexistence remain limited. It has been assumed that in savannas there is no direct competition occurring belowground between woody vegetation and grasses. Although the assertion that two layers of roots are present has been questioned as a consistent representation of belowground woody-grass interactions in savannas. Therefore, it is necessary to repartition woody and grass roots into three-layers to provide a more consistent representation of the belowground competition observed in savannas. Then developing numerical models provides a means through which these hypotheses can be compared, and analyzed. The results show that reallocating roots into three-layers provides a far more consistent representation of belowground competition occurring between woody vegetation and grasses in savannas environments, as well as a better understanding of the ecohydrological mechanisms influencing the woody-grass distribution.

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