Saturday, August 25, 2007

Tropical soils, continued

Given that most tropical soils are lacking in nutrients, it only makes sense that trees don't waste a lot time putting down taproots. They send out surface feeders to consume the nutrients in the top soil. Sometimes we see very large roots snaking along the ground in pursuit of food. Clearly there are mattings of smaller roots underneath taking on this task. In this image you can see part of the root system of a tree that was blown over by the wind. No taproot, only surface feeders. The tree wasn't a small one, it must have been at least 25 meters high. Surface roots provide some stability for trees but not to the extent that taproots do. Maybe a comparison can be made between boats with keels. Deeper keels, as in sailboats, provide for much more stability than flat-bottomed boats.

No comments: