Root system development of Larix gmelinii trees affected by micro-scale conditions of permafrost soils in central Siberia
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- Kajimoto, T., Matsuura, Y., Osawa, A. et al. Plant and Soil (2003) 255: 281. doi:10.1023/A:1026175718177
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Spatial distributions of root systems of Larix gmelinii (Rupr.) Rupr. trees were examined in two stands in central Siberia: an even-aged stand (ca. 100 yrs-old) and a mature, uneven-aged (240–280 yrs-old) stand. Five larch trees of different sizes were sampled by excavating coarse roots (diameter > 5 mm) in each stand. Dimensions and ages of all first-order lateral roots were measured. Micro-scale conditions of soil temperature and soil water suction (each 10 cm deep) were also examined in relation to earth hummock topography (mound vs. trough) and/or ground floor vegetation types (moss vs. lichens). All larch trees developed superficial root systems, consisting of the aborted short tap root (10–40 cm in soil depth) and some well-spread lateral roots (n= 4-13). The root network of each tree was asymmetric, and its rooting area reached about four times the crown projection area. Lateral roots generally expanded into the upper soil layers of the mounds where summer soil temperature was 1–6 °C higher than inside nearby troughs. Chronological analysis indicated that lateral root expansion started successively from lower to upper parts of each aborted tap root, and some lateral roots occurred simultaneously at several decades after tree establishment. The process of root system development was likely to be primarily linked with post-fire dynamics of rhizosphere environment of the permafrost soils.