Into the deep: exploring root distribution and function in tropical forests.

Duration : 2019 - 2021
Research program : LabEx CEBA (ANR)
Geographic extension : National

While the hidden part of plants, roots are essential components of plant ecological strategies and are often assumed to be the missing piece to better understand ecosystem functioning in response to soil and climate gradients. However, there is very little information on root biomass and trait distribution with depth in tropical forests. It thus remains unclear how deep roots can contribute to tropical forest functioning, hampering predictions of the future of these ecosystems with ongoing climate change that forecast increasing frequency and intensity of drought events in tropical regions.
To tackle this knowledge gap, we propose to sample roots down to 10 m in an undisturbed tropical forest, located at Paracou in French Guiana. We will quantify variation in biomass and traits of fine and coarse roots with depth and associated soil characteristics. We will then leverage this data in a forest dynamics model to better understand how deep roots contribute to ecosystem functioning, and evaluate their potential to improve model predictions.
This project will significantly increase the data available so far on root distributions and traits in tropical forests and has the potential of considerably improving our understanding of tropical forest functioning.


  • UMR ECOFOG, Kourou
  • UMR SILVA, Nancy