What is a Rhizotron?
A Rhizotron [Greek, from rhiza, root] is an enclosure or exclosure with at least one transparent panel that allows for non-invasive viewing of underground processes, specifically root systems.
Where is it?
The Houghton Rhizotron is an underground facility with 24 windows looking out into northern forest soils. This facility is one of two in the world located in a northern forest ecosystem.
This 65 second movie represents 2 years of time-lapse images, taken belowground in the upper 10 cm of the soil. Beginning in March 2008 and ending in March 2010, every 8 seconds encompasses an entire season. As soil temperature increases and snow melts, biological activity in the soil increases. During spring Lumbricus terrestris, a non-native earthworm commonly referred to as the Nightcrawler, burrows deep into the soil, pulling dead leaves through the upper soil horizons. As summer approaches, roots begin to grow and soon soil moisture decreases, depicted by the lightening of the soil color. As fall comes to a close, precipitation increases and there is a wetting front moving vertically through the soil (at around 24 seconds). As winter approaches and the snow falls, the earthworms remain active while root growth goes dormant. Spring of 2009 brings conditions similar to the previous year with an increase in soil activity, root growth and a drying front during the summer, and a wetting front during the fall. Earthworms remain active through the winter of 2009-2010.
Soil moisture and temperature records during the time period of this video are available, along with higher resolution images. This video is a sub-sampling of images taken over the 2 year period (2 images/day, 12 hours apart). Photos are taken every 30 minutes for our time lapse system, for a total of 48 images/day for the past 2 years. Please contact Erik Lilleskov for more information.
Last Modified: 02/14/2011