A team of soil and plant ecologists simulated low and high precipitation at grassland research sites in Colorado, Kansas and New Mexico over two years.
To learn more about the effects of these extreme events, a team of soil and plant ecologists, led by Colorado State University faculty, studied nematodes, commonly known as roundworms, that play a key role in carbon and nutrient cycling and decomposition in soil.
Simulating low and high precipitation at grassland research sites in Colorado, Kansas and New Mexico over two years, the researchers found in extreme drought conditions that predator nematodes significantly decreased, which led to the growth of root-feeding nematodes.
Franco said the research team is now analyzing the combined soil and plant results from these sites to learn more about whether plants will suffer more than previously thought, due to extreme drought conditions.
Credit: Andre Franco/Colorado State University "Root biomass responds to most of the carbon sequestered in grasslands, and it might be that the increased population of root feeders is exacerbating the negative effects of drought on carbon sequestration in these ecosystems," he said.