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Increased Rainfall Reduces Tree Growth in the Savanna

Photo credit: Nature World News

Princeton University researchers found that the ability of grasses to more efficiently absorb and process water gives them an advantage over trees such as the acacia, one of which is pictured here. (Photo : Kev Moses)

Climate Change and Tree Growth: Increased Rainfall Can Actually Reduce Tree Growth In the African Savanna, Researchers Say

By Samantha Mathewson

Given heavier rainfalls regularly sweeping through the African savanna, you’d expect to see observe thriving tree populations. But these areas are actually home to significantly fewer trees. Why?¬†Researchers from Princeton University recently set out to answer this question and found that it all has to do with putting down roots.

Trees equipped with tougher, deeper roots are better able to survive droughts but that leaves them ill equipped to drink in water during sudden and frequent intense rainfalls. That’s not the case with nearby grasses which can absorb water quickly and take advantage of their slower sipping arboreal neighbors, according to a news release.

“A simple way to view this is to think of rainfall as annual income,” Xiangtao Xu, first author of the study and a graduate student at Princeton University, said in the release. “Trees and grasses are competing over the amount of money the savanna gets every year and it matters how they use their funds.”

Read the full article: Nature World News

Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.