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Variation in fine root biomass of three European tree species: Beech (Fagus sylvatica L.), Norway spruce (Picea abies L. Karst.), and Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.)

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Fine roots (<2 mm) are very dynamic and play a key role in forest ecosystem carbon and nutrient cycling and accumulation. We reviewed root biomass data of three main European tree species European beech, (Fagus sylvatica L.), Norway spruce (Picea abies L. Karst.) and Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.), in order to identify the differences between species, and within and between vegetation zones, and to show the relationships between root biomass and the climatic, site and stand factors. The collected literature consisted of data from 36 beech, 71 spruce and 43 pine stands. The mean fine root biomass of beech was 389 g m-2, and that of spruce and pine 297 g m-2 and 277 g m-2, respectively. Data from pine stands supported the hypothesis that root biomass is higher in the temperate than in the boreal zone. The results indicated that the root biomass of deciduous trees is higher than that of conifers. The correlations between root biomass and site fertility characteristics seemed to be species specific. There was no correlation between soil acidity and root biomass. Beech fine root biomass decreased with stand age whereas pine root biomass increased with stand age. Fine root biomass at tree level correlated better than stand level root biomass with stand characteristics. The results showed that there exists a strong relationship between the fine root biomass and the above-ground biomass.

Keywords: Below-ground biomass; boreal forests; climatic variables; soil variables; temperate forests

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Joensuu Research Unit, Finnish Forest Research Institute, Finland 2: Vantaa Research Unit, Finnish Forest Research Institute, Finland 3: Institute of Geography, Tartu University, Estonia 4: Department of Ecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Sweden 5: Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research, Switzerland 6: Norwegian Forest and Landscape Institute, Norway 7: School of Environment and Natural Resources, University of Wales, UK 8: Slovenian Forestry Institute, Slovenia 9: National Forest Centre, Forest Research Institute Zvolen T. G. Masaryka 22, Slovak Republic 10: Faculty of Forestry, University of Joensuu, Finland 11: School of Human Science and Environment, University of Hyogo, Japan 12: Institute of Dendrology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Poland 13: Institute of Forestry and Rural Engineering, Estonian University of Life Sciences, Estonia 14: Environmental and Human Science Division, Forest Research, UK

Publication date: November 1, 2007


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