The precise characteristics of a plant’s roots dictate the climatic circumstances in which that plant thrives. This relationship is clarified by a recent study done by the University of Wyoming, which also questions the nature of ecological trade-offs. Daniel Laughlin, an associate professor in the UW Department of Botany and director of the Global Vegetation Project, led the study, which included researchers from the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research in Leipzig, Germany; Leipzig University; and Wageningen University & Research in Wageningen, Netherlands. The paper includes contributors from more than 50 academic institutions, environmental agencies, institutes and laboratories. Plant roots generally remain hidden below the ground, but their role for the distribution of plants should not be underestimated. Roots are essential for water and nutrient uptake, yet little is known about the influence of root traits on species distribution.