Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Agriculture, Forestry, Horticulture, Fishery, Domestic Science, Nutrition
Abstract Tree root activity, including fine-root production, turnover and metabolic activity are significant components of forest productivity and nutrient cycling. Differences in root activity among forest types are not well known. A 3-year study was undertaken in red pine (Pinus resinosa Ait.) and hybrid poplar (Populus tristis X P. balsamifera cv `Tristis no. 1') plantations to compare belowground root dynamics. We measured fine-root production, mortality and standing crop, as well as soil CO2 efflux. Pine fine-root production was only 2.9% of that of poplar during three years; 85 pine roots were observed in minirhizotron tubes compared with 4088 poplar roots. Live-root density oscillated seasonally for both species with late winter minimum and autumn maximum. Poplar reached constant maximum live-root length within the first growing season, but pine continued to increase observed fine-root length for three growing seasons. Within the first 100 days following initial appearance, 22% of the pine roots disappeared and 38% of the poplar roots disappeared. Median fine-root longevity of pine was 291 days compared with 149 days for poplar roots. Fine-root longevity increased with depth in the soil, and was greater for roots with initial diameter 〉0.5 mm. The probability of poplar root death from late February to May was more than three times that in any other season, regardless of root age. Despite the greater poplar root production and live-root length, fine-root biomass and soil CO2 efflux was greater in pine. Greater metabolic activity in the pine stand may be due to greater fine-root biomass or greater heterotrophic respiration.
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