Plant and Soil

, Volume 265, Issue 1–2, pp 31–46 | Cite as

Estimating fine-root biomass and production of boreal and cool temperate forests using aboveground measurements: A new approach

  • Wenjun ChenEmail author
  • Quanfa Zhang
  • Josef Cihlar
  • Jürgen Bauhus
  • David T. Price


Information of fine-root biomass and production is critical for quantifying the productivity and carbon cycle of forest ecosystems, and yet our ability to obtain this information especially at a large spatial scale (e.g., regional to global) is extremely limited. Several studies attempted to relate fine-root biomass and production with various aboveground variables that can be measured more easily so that fine-root biomass and production could be estimated at a large spatial scale, but found the correlations were generally weak or non-existed at the stand level. In this study, we tested a new approach: instead of using the conventional way of analysing fine-root biomass at the stand level, we analysed fine-root data at the tree level. Fine-root biomass of overstory trees in stand was first separated from that of understory and standardized to a common fine-root definition of < 2 mm or < 5 mm diameter. Afterwards, we calculated fine-root biomass per tree for a ‘representative’ tree size of mean basal area for each stand. Statistically significant correlations between the fine-root biomass per tree and the diameter at the ground surface were found for all four boreal and cool temperate spruce, pine, fir and broadleaf forest types, and so allometric equations were developed for each group using a total of n = 212 measurements. The stand-level fine-root biomass of trees estimated using the allometric equations agrees well with the measurements, with r2 values of 0.64 and 0.57 (n = 171), respectively, for fine-roots < 2 mmand < 5 mm diameter. This study further estimated fine-root production as the product of fine-root turnover rate and fine-root biomass, and determined the turnover rate as a function of fine-root biomass, stand age, and mean annual temperature. The estimates of tree fine-root production agree well with reported values, with r2 value of 0.53 for < 2 mm and 0.54 for < 5 mm diameter (n = 162) at the stand level.

Key words

boreal cool temperature fine-root biomass fine-root production forest new approach regional estimation turnover rate 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wenjun Chen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Quanfa Zhang
    • 1
  • Josef Cihlar
    • 1
  • Jürgen Bauhus
    • 2
  • David T. Price
    • 3
  1. 1.Applications DivisionCanada Centre for Remote SensingOttawaCanada
  2. 2.School of Resources, Environment and SocietyAustralian National UniversityCanberraAustralia
  3. 3.Northern Forestry Centre, Canadian Forestry ServiceEdmontonCanada

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