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Rooting Characteristics of Four Intermountain Meadow Community Types

Mary E. Manning, Sherman R. Swanson, Tony Svejcar and James Trent
Journal of Range Management
Vol. 42, No. 4 (Jul., 1989), pp. 309-312
DOI: 10.2307/3899500
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3899500
Page Count: 4
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Rooting Characteristics of Four Intermountain Meadow Community Types
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Abstract

Healthy meadow communities generally have excellent soil binding properties. However, belowground characteristics of these communities have seldom been evaluated. In 4 meadow community types (CTs) we measured root mass and root length density (RLD) at 10-cm intervals to 40 cm soil depth. The CTs occurred along a wet to dry soil moisture gradient. The ranking of CTs from wettest to driest was: Carex nebrascensis (CANE) > Juncus balticus (JUBA) > Carex douglasii (CADO) > Poa nevadensis (PONE). Total RLD and mass to 40 cm paralleled the order of soil wetness, i.e., there were more roots at the wetter sites. Values of total RLD and mass for the 4 CTs were: 95.6 cm cm-3 and 3,382 g m-2 respectively for CANE; 33.6 cm cm-3 and 2,545 g m-2 for JUBA; 25.7 cm cm-3 and 1,526 g m-2 for CADO; and 8.8 cm cm-3 and 555 g m-2 for PONE. Root mass and RLD declined with depth, a result consistent with other graminoid systems. The RLD values for CANE, JUBA, and CADO are exceptionally high compared to literature values from other graminoid plant communities. The high RLD of the wet CTs suggests that they have superior site-stabilizing characteristics.

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