Incorporating resilience and adaptability into eco-hydrological models through rooting strategy

Sivandran, G.; Bras, R. L.

Gordon Research Conference: Hydrologic Sciences – Interactions of Hydrology, Biology and Geochemistry, Lewiston ME.

At present, land surface models prescribe rooting profiles dependent only upon the plant functional type, with no consideration for the soil texture or rainfall regime of the region being simulated. These models do not incorporate the spatial variability of plant growth resulting from soil heterogeneities, or the ability of plants to dynamically alter their rooting strategies in response to transient environmental forcings. Therefore these models tend to underestimate the resilience of these ecosystems.

 A dynamic rooting scheme was incorporated into tRIBS+VEGGIE (a physically-based, distributed ecohydrologic model). The dynamic rooting scheme allows vegetation the freedom to alter its rooting profile in response to changes in rainfall and soil conditions, in a way that more closely mimics observed plant behavior. The new scheme allows simulation of the natural buffering capacity of these systems, and can be used to explore the role of root adaptability in plant competition and landscape evolution.