Wall lab postdocs Andre Franco and Walter Andriuzzi, with the help of students Abby Jackson and Diana Granados, had a successful day of field work in the short-grass steppe site of our ongoing grassland project. In this project, an NSF-funded collaboration with Osvaldo Sala’s lab at Arizona State University, we seek to find out how variability in annual precipitation affects belowground primary production (that is, root biomass), and most interestingly to us, what role soil nematodes play in it.
It has been a rainy summer in northern Colorado, and therefore the steppe is more verdant than ever. Except under our rain-out shelters, where the vegetation was more brown and yellow than green. No surprise here – water availability is well-known to constrain plant growth in this ecosystem, at least above the ground. But what happens belowground? The team investigates!