, Volume 270, Issue 1, pp 233-247

Morphology, biomass and nutrient status of fine roots of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) as influenced by seasonal fluctuations in soil moisture and soil solution chemistry

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Abstract

A field monitoring study was carried out to follow the changes of fine root morphology, biomass and nutrient status in relation to seasonal changes in soil solution chemistry and moisture regime in a mature Scots pine stand on acid soil. Seasonal and yearly fluctuations in soil moisture and soil solution chemistry have been observed. Changes in soil moisture accounted for some of the changes in the soil solution chemistry. The results showed that when natural acidification in the soil occurs with low pH (3.5–4.2) and high aluminium concentration in the soil solution (>3–10 mg l−1), fine root longevity and distribution could be affected. However, fine root growth of Scots pine may not be negatively influenced by adverse soil chemical conditions if soil moisture is not a limiting factor for root growth. In contrast, dry soil conditions increase Scots pine susceptibility to soil acidification and this could significantly reduce fine root growth and increase root mortality. It is therefore important to study seasonal fluctuations of the environmental variables when investigating and modelling cause-effect relationships.