We have still limited understanding of the mechanisms that shape the immense functional diversity and species richness of plants in tropical ecosystems. Such knowledge gaps hinder our ability to evaluate the impact that deforestation and soil degradation may have on forest regeneration and soil conservation. Our goal in this study is to highlight the importance of belowground processes in maintaining crucial ecosystem functions by investigating relationships among evolutionary phylogeny, morphological and physiological root traits and mycorrhizal associations in relation to soil nutrient availability in an integrated framework.
We aim to create the first curated collection of fine roots from tropical systems that will be accessible via an online library to the scientific community as well as to the general public. We therefore expect that this investigation will fill an important gap in root ecology by providing invaluable information about (1) how tropical trees are able to maintain efficient nutrient acquisition, (2) root functional traits present in tropical areas, and (3) resulting implications for management of forest regeneration and soil degradation under future scenarios.