Pavón, N.P. 2005. Biomass and root production of two plant life forms in a semiarid Mexican scrub: responses to soil nitrogen availability. Canadian Journal of Botany 83: 1317 1321.
The contribution of cacti and shrubs to root biomass and fine-root production was described in a semiarid Mexican scrub. Both life forms were evaluated for fine-root production variation in relation to changes of nitrogen in the soil, with a fertilization experiment. Cacti represented 78% of the total mean root biomass (660 70 gm2 (mean SE)) in the complete soil profile (50 cm in depth). In both life forms, root biomass was higher near the surface of the soil. Roots <3 mm in diameter represented 92.5% for cactus root biomass and 69.4% for shrubs. Monthly root biomass varied significantly between months, and significant differences were obtained between plant life forms. Fine and very fine root production was estimated as 3.76 Mgha1year1, and cactus contribution to total root production was 81.2%. Significant differences were obtained between life forms. It was clear that a low concentration in the soil nitrogen diminishes fine-root production, supporting the hypothesis that in arid ecosystems nitrogen is a limiting factor for primary production.