, Volume 335, Issue 1-2, pp 469-478
Date: 04 Jun 2010

Vertical patterns of fine root biomass, morphology and nitrogen concentration in a subalpine fir-wave forest

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To clarify the nutrient acquisition strategies for below-ground resources in a subalpine Abies forest with shallow soils, we examined the vertical patterns of fine root biomass, morphology, nitrogen concentration of fine root tissue and soil chemical characteristics in nine quadrats of sapling, young and mature stands in a subalpine fir-wave forest, central Japan. The community characteristics changed with stand development, but stand development did not influence the vertical pattern of fine root characteristics. Fine root biomass decreased with soil depth. Specific root length did not differ among soil depths, and neither average diameter nor tissue density of fine roots changed vertically. The nitrogen concentration of fine roots differed significantly among soil depths, and was higher in surface soils than in deeper soils. Moreover, soil pH, soil electrical conductivity and soil nitrogen concentration were higher in surface layers than deeper layers. Therefore, we suggest that the subalpine Abies community has a nutrient acquisition strategy that allows uptake of more nutrients near the surface in shallow soils due to the larger investment in biomass and more active metabolism, but not due to phenotypic plasticity in fine root morphology. In addition, we observed that fine root biomass changed with stand development, where specific root length was greater in sapling stands than in older stands.