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Dr. Travis Idol Dr. Travis Idol


Forest Ecologist: My favorite science experience was measuring the growth of roots into mesh bags filled with soil. The bags were placed in holes in the ground in forests of different ages. That way, we could tell how fast the roots were growing. That would tell us how much energy andbiomass the trees were sending belowground where it is not normally visible.
The youngest forests (only 5 years old) had the fastest root growth but also the most rapid root death. These facts make sense because young trees have to grow roots, shoots, and leaves quickly to compete with their neighbors. After the forest ages, the fewer but bigger trees have well-established root systems and leaf canopies, and thus donít have to compete as intensely. Photo by Dr. J.B. Friday.