loading page

Limited evidence of vertical root segregation in a subtropical forest
  • +5
  • Wenqi Luo,
  • Ming Ni,
  • Youshi Wang,
  • Run Lan,
  • David Eissenstat,
  • James Cahill,
  • Buhang Li,
  • Chengjin Chu
Wenqi Luo
State Key Laboratory of Biocontrol and School of Ecology, Sun Yat-sen University, 510275 Guangzhou, China

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

Author Profile
Ming Ni
Universite de Sherbrooke
Author Profile
Youshi Wang
Author Profile
David Eissenstat
Pennsylvania State University
Author Profile
James Cahill
University of Alberta
Author Profile
Buhang Li
Sun Yat-sen University
Author Profile
Chengjin Chu
Sun Yat-Sen University
Author Profile


Vertical root segregation can be a key underpinning of species co-existence through below-ground niche partitioning but has rarely been tested in diverse forest communities. We randomly sampled > 4000 root samples from 625 0-30 cm soil profiles in a subtropical forest in China to determine the degree of vertical root segregation among 109 woody species and rooting plasticity in response to edaphic heterogeneity and root neighbours. Over 85% of species were predominantly distributed in the 0-10 cm soil zone, exhibiting low and inconsistent rooting plasticity in response to either edaphic heterogeneity or root neighbours. There was no evidence of vertical root segregation among co-occurring species. Contrastingly, the increase of one species’ root abundance tended to increase, but not reduce other species’ root abundance within soil zones. These findings suggest that interspecific differentiation of resource acquisition strategies might be more important than root segregation in mediating species co-existence in diverse forests.