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Estimation of coarse root biomass and nutrient content for sugar maple, jack pine, and black spruce using stem diameter at breast height

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Estimates of belowground biomass and mineralomass are fundamental to understanding carbon and element cycling in forest ecosystems. At two sites, we measured coarse root (diameter≥2mm) biomass by diameter class and their mineralomass for sugar maple (Acer saccharum Marsh.), black spruce (Picea mariana (Mill.) BSP), and jack pine (Pinus banksiana Lamb.) trees to relate them to stem diameter at breast height (DBH). All regressions describing coarse root biomass and nutrient content as a function of stem DBH were highly significant (r2≥ 0.89, P< 0.001). Root mineral element (N, P, K, Ca, Mg, and S) concentrations varied with tree species and root diameter class. Sugar maple roots had higher N, P, and S concentrations than the other two tree species. Black spruce had higher root Ca concentrations. Element concentrations increased consistently with the reduction of root diameter for the three studied species. We also found that the horizontal root extent of sugar maple was related to tree DBH. In conjunction with other studies, the relationship suggests that this tree species could tolerate a 10%–20% root loss but not losses≥28%–34%; otherwise, sugar maple health and vigour would be compromised in the short term.

L’estimation de la biomasse et de la minéralomasse dans le sol est essentielle pour comprendre le recyclage du carbone et des éléments dans les écosystèmes forestiers. Dans deux stations, nous avons mesuré la biomasse des grosses racines (diamètre ≥2 mm) par classe de diamètres ainsi que leur minéralomasse pour l’érable à sucre (Acer saccharum Marsh.), l’épinette noire (Picea mariana (Mill.) BSP) et le pin gris (Pinus banksiana Lamb.) dans le but de les relier au diamètre de la tige à hauteur de poitrine (DHP). Toutes les équations de régression décrivant la relation entre la biomasse ou le contenu en nutriments des grosses racines et le DHP étaient très significatives (r2 ≥ 0,89, P < 0,001). La concentration des éléments minéraux dans les racines (N, P, K, Ca, Mg et S) variait selon l’espèce d’arbre et la classe de diamètres des racines. Les racines de l’érable à sucre avaient des concentrations de N, P et S plus élevées que celles des deux autres espèces. Les racines de l’épinette noire avaient la plus forte concentration de Ca. La concentration des éléments augmentait invariablement avec la réduction du diamètre des racines chez les trois espèces étudiées. Nous avons également observé que l’étendue horizontale des racines de l’érable à sucre était reliée au DHP. Combinée aux résultats d’autres études, cette relation indique que l’érable à sucre pourrait tolérer une perte de racines de 10%–20% mais non des pertes ≥28%–34%, sans que sa santé et sa vigueur soient compromises à court terme.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2008

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  • Published since 1971, this monthly journal features articles, reviews, notes and commentaries on all aspects of forest science, including biometrics and mensuration, conservation, disturbance, ecology, economics, entomology, fire, genetics, management, operations, pathology, physiology, policy, remote sensing, social science, soil, silviculture, wildlife and wood science, contributed by internationally respected scientists. It also publishes special issues dedicated to a topic of current interest.
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