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The platform for European root science, COST action E38: An introduction and overview

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Globally, forests cover 4 billion ha or 30% of the Earth's land surface and account for more that 75% of carbon stored in terrestrial ecosystem. However, 20 - 40% of the forest biomass is roots. Roots play a key role in acquisition of water and nutrients from the soil, the transfer of carbon to soil, as well as providing physical stabilisation. In temperate forests of Europe, average biomass of trees is estimated to be ca. 220 t ha-1, of which 52 t ha-1 are coarse roots and 2.4 t ha-1 are fine roots. Thus, forests and their soils belong to the planets largest reservoirs of carbon. As an outcome of a recently established European platform for scientists working on woody roots, COST action E38, a series of papers has been initiated in order to review the current knowledge on processes in and of roots of woody plants and to identify possible knowledge gaps. These reviews concentrate on aspects of roots as indicators of environmental change, biomass of fine roots, and modelling of course root systems. The reviews of roots as indicators of environmental change cover a number of aspects including, specific root length, the calcium to aluminium ratio, root electrolyte leakage, and ectomycorrhiza community composition.
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Keywords: Coarse roots; fine root dynamics; indicators; modelling; tree roots

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School of Environment and Natural Resources, University of Wales, United Kingdom 2: Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL), Birmensdorf, Switzerland

Publication date: 2007-11-01

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