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Several recent studies demonstrate that yield of individual plants, and their allocation of biomass between roots and shoots, can be profoundly affected by the pattern of supply of soil-based resources. Patchy provision of soil-based resources can affect the location of root biomass, as roots often proliferate in nutrient-rich patches. Root system size is important in determining whether plants access nutrient-rich patches, and the proportion of root systems located within such patches. This proportion will alter as growth proceeds. Species with small root systems have a limited ability to place roots in nutrient-rich patches even when they are very close. Of four species with different root system sizes, the growth...