Plant and Soil

, Volume 374, Issue 1–2, pp 19–32 | Cite as

Fine root and litterfall dynamics of three Korean pine (Pinus koraiensis) forests along an altitudinal gradient

  • Yong Zhou
  • Jiaqi Su
  • Ivan A. Janssens
  • Guangsheng Zhou
  • Chunwang Xiao
Regular Article


Background and aims

Fine root and aboveground litterfall, two large fluxes of nutrients and carbon in the forest ecosystems, are key processes to be considered in efforts of measuring, modeling and predicting soil carbon sequestration.


We used sequential coring and litter trap to measure seasonal dynamics of fine root and litterfall in three Korean pine dominated forests along an altitudinal gradient in the Changbai Mountain during the 2012 growing season.


Fine root biomass decreased significantly while necromass increased remarkably with altitude. Patterns and amounts of fine root production and mortality varied among forest types. Litterfall decreased significantly with altitude, whereas forest floor mass increased. Carbon inputs through fine root mortality and litterfall decreased significantly with altitude while carbon storage of fine root mass did not differ among forest types and carbon storage of forest floor mass was significantly larger in higher altitudinal forests due to lower turnover rates.


This study provided an insight into the variations of fine root and litterfall dynamics among three Korean pine forests which were associated with different vegetation traits and environmental conditions, and also the quantification of carbon fluxes through fine root mortality and litterfall for estimating carbon budget of temperate forest.


Fine root Litterfall Carbon storage Korean pine forest Altitudinal gradient 



This study was financially supported by the National Basic Research Program of China (973 program, no. 2010CB951303). We thank Guanhua Dai (the Research Station of Changbai Mountain Forest Ecosystem, Chinese Academy of Sciences) for his assistance with field work and Bo Wang (Institute of Botany, the Chinese Academy of Sciences) for his assistance with laboratory work. We also gratefully acknowledge the Research Station of Changbai Mountain Forest Ecosystem of Chinese Academy of Sciences for help with logistics, and the Changbai Mountain Nature Reserve for access permission to the study sites.


  1. Aber JD, Melillo JM, Nadelhoffer KJ, McClaugherty CA, Pastor J (1985) Fine root turnover in forest ecosystems in relation to quantity and form of nitrogen availability : a comparison of two methods. Oecologia 66:317–321CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alvarez-Uria P, Körner C (2007) Low temperature limits of root growth in deciduous and evergreen temperate tree species. Funct Ecol 21:211–218CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Berg B, Meentemeyer V (2001) Litter fall in some European coniferous forests as dependent on climate: a synthesis. Can J For Res 31:292–301CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Blanco JA, Imbert JB, Castillo FJ (2006) Influence of site characteristics and thinning intensity on litterfall production in two Pinus sylvestris L. forests in the western Pyrenees. Forest Ecol Manag 237:342–352CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Brunner I, Bakker MR, Björk RG, Hirano Y, Lukac M, Aranda X, Børja I, Eldhuset TD, Helmisaari HS, Jourdan C, Konôpka B, López BC, Miguel Pérez C, Persson H, Ostonen I (2013) Fine-root turnover rates of European forests revisited: an analysis of data from sequential coring and ingrowth cores. Plant Soil 362:357–372CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Davis JP, Haines B, Coleman D, Hendrick R (2004) Fine root dynamics along an elevational gradient in the southern Appalachian Mountains, USA. Forest Ecol Manag 187:19–33CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Dunne JA, Saleska SR, Fischer ML, Harte J (2004) Integrating experimental and gradient methods in ecological climate change research. Ecology 85:904–916CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Fairley RI, Alexander IJ (1985) Methods of calculating fine root production in forests. In: Fitter AH, Aktinson D, Read DJ, Usher MB (eds) Ecological interactions in soil. Blackwell Scientific, Boston, pp 37–42Google Scholar
  9. Fang J, Chen A, Peng C, Zhao S, Ci L (2001) Changes in forest biomass carbon storage in China between 1949 and 1998. Science 292:2320–2322PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. FAO-UNESCO (1988) Soil map of the world, revised legend. World soil resource rep 60. FAO, RomeGoogle Scholar
  11. Finér L, Helmisaari HS, Lõhmus K, Majdi H, Brunner I, Børja I, Eldhuset T, Godbold D, Grebenc T, Konôpka B, Kraigher H, Möttönen MR, Ohashi M, Oleksyn J, Ostonen I, Uri V, Vanguelova E (2007) Variation in fine root biomass of three European tree species: Beech (Fagus sylvatica L.), Norway spruce (Picea abies L. Karst.), and Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.). Plant Biosyst 141:394–405Google Scholar
  12. Finér L, Ohashi M, Noguchi K, Hirano Y (2011) Fine root production and turnover in forest ecosystems in relation to stand and environmental characteristics. Forest Ecol Manag 262:2008–2023CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Gill RA, Jackson RB (2000) Global patterns of root turnover for terrestrial ecosystems. New Phytol 147:13–31CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Guo ZL, Zheng JP, Ma YD, Han SJ, Li QK, Yu GR, Fan CN, Liu WD, Shao DK (2006) A preliminary study on fine root biomass and dynamics of woody plants in several major forest communities of Changbai Mountain, China. Acta Ecol Sin 26:2855–2862Google Scholar
  15. Hendrick RL, Pregitzer KS (1992) The demography of fine roots in a northern hardwood forest. Ecology 73:1094–1104CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hendrick RL, Pregitzer KS (1996) Temporal and depth-related patterns of fine root dynamics in northern hardwood forests. J Ecol 84:167–176CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Jackson RB, Canadell J, Ehleringer J, Mooney H, Sala O, Schulze ED (1996) A global analysis of root distributions for terrestrial biomes. Oecologia 108:389–411CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Jackson RB, Mooney H, Schulze ED (1997) A global budget for fine root biomass, surface area, and nutrient contents. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 94:7362–7366PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Janssens I, Sampson D, Curiel-Yuste J, Carrara A, Ceulemans R (2002) The carbon cost of fine root turnover in a Scots pine forest. Forest Ecol Manag 168:231–240CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Konôpka B, Noguchi K, Sakata T, Takahashi M, Konôpková Z (2006) Fine root dynamics in a Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria japonica) plantation throughout the growing season. Forest Ecol Manag 225:278–286CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Lei P, Scherer-Lorenzen M, Bauhus J (2012) The effect of tree species diversity on fine-root production in a young temperate forest. Oecologia 169:1105–1115PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Leuschner C, Hertel D (2003) Fine root biomass of temperate forests in relation to soil acidity and fertility, climate, age and species. Prog Bot 64:405–438CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Li X, Hu Y, Han S, Liu Y, Zhang Y (2010) Litterfall and litter chemistry change over time in an old-growth temperate forest, northeastern China. Ann For Sci 67:206–213CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Liu Y, Han SJ, Lin L (2009) Dynamic characteristics of litterfalls in four forest types of Changbai Mountains, China. Chinese J Ecol 28:7–11Google Scholar
  25. Malhi Y, Silman M, Salinas N, Bush M, Meir P, Saatchi S (2010) Introduction: elevation gradients in the tropics: laboratories for ecosystem ecology and global change research. Global Change Biol 16:3171–3175CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Matamala R, Gonzalez-Meler MA, Jastrow JD, Norby RJ, Schlesinger WH (2003) Impacts of fine root turnover on forest NPP and soil C sequestration potential. Science 302:1385–1387PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Meentemeyer V, Box EO, Thompson R (1982) World patterns and amounts of terrestrial plant litter production. BioScience 32:125–128CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Nadelhoffer KJ, Raich JW (1992) Fine root production estimates and belowground carbon allocation in forest ecosystems. Ecology 73:1139–1147CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Noguchi K, Konôpka B, Satomura T, Kaneko S, Takahashi M (2007) Biomass and production of fi ne roots in Japanese forests. J For Res 12:83–95CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Pan Y, Birdsey RA, Fang J, Houghton R, Kauppi PE, Kurz WA, Phillips OL, Shvidenko A, Lewis SL, Canadell JG, Ciais P, Jackson RB, Pacala SW, McGuire AD, Piao S, Rautiainen A, Sitch S, Hayes D (2011) A large and persistent carbon sink in the world’s forests. Science 333:988–993PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Persson HÅ (2012) The high input of soil organic matter from dead tree fine roots into the forest soil. Int J Forest Res. doi: 10.1155/2012/217402 Google Scholar
  32. Persson HÅ, Stadenberg I (2009) Spatial distribution of fine-roots in boreal forests in eastern Sweden. Plant Soil 318:1–14CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Persson HÅ, Stadenberg I (2010) Fine root dynamics in a Norway spruce forest (Picea abies (L.) Karst) in eastern Sweden. Plant Soil 330:329–344CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Pregitzer KS (2002) Fine roots of trees—a new perspective. New Phytol 154:267–270CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Pregitzer KS, King JS, Burton AJ, Brown SE (2000) Responses of tree fine roots to temperature. New Phytol 147:105–115CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Raich J, Nadelhoffer K (1989) Belowground carbon allocation in forest ecosystems: global trends. Ecology 70:1346–1354CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Reiners WA, Lang GE (1987) Changes in litterfall along a gradient in altitude. J Ecol 75:629–638CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Rochow JJ (1974) Litter fall relations in a Missouri forest. Okios 25:80–85CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Santantonio D, Grace J (1987) Estimating fine-root production and turnover from biomass and decomposition data: a compartment-flow model. Can J For Res 17:900–908CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Sayer EJ (2006) Using experimental manipulation to assess the roles of leaf litter in the functioning of forest ecosystems. Biol Rev 81:1–31PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Shan JP, Tao DL, Wang M, Zhao SD (1993) Fine roots turnover in a broad-leaved Korean pine forest of Changbai mountain. Chin J Appl Ecol 4:241–245Google Scholar
  42. Silver WL, Miya RK (2001) Global patterns in root decomposition: comparisons of climate and litter quality effects. Oecologia 129:407–419Google Scholar
  43. Sparks DL, Page A, Helmke P, Loeppert R, Soltanpour P, Tabatabai M, Johnston C, Sumner M (1996) Methods of soil analysis. Part 3-Chemical methods. Soil Science Society of America Inc.Google Scholar
  44. Vogt KA, Persson HÅ (1991) Measuring growth and development of roots. In: Lassoie JP, Hinckley TM (eds) Techniques and approaches in forest tree ecophysiology. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL. pp 477–501Google Scholar
  45. Vogt KA, Grier CC, Vogt D (1986) Production, turnover, and nutrient dynamics of above-and belowground detritus of world forests. Adv Ecol Res 15:303–378CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Vogt KA, Vogt DJ, Palmiotto PA, Boon P, O’Hara J, Asbjornsen H (1996) Review of root dynamics in forest ecosystems grouped by climate, climatic forest type and species. Plant Soil 187:159–219CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Wesemael B, Veer M (1992) Soil organic matter accumulation, litter decomposition and humus forms under mediterranean–type forests in southern Tuscany, Italy. J Soil Sci 43:133–144CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Xiao CW, Sang WG, Wang RZ (2008) Fine root dynamics and turnover rate in an Asia white birch forest of Donglingshan Mountain, China. Forest Ecol Manag 255:765–773CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Yang H, Li D (1985) Distribution patterns of dominant tree species on northern slope of Changbai Mountain. Res For Ecosyst 5:1–4Google Scholar
  50. Yang L, Wu S, Zhang L (2010) Fine root biomass dynamics and carbon storage along a successional gradient in Changbai Mountains, China. Forestry 83:379–387CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Yuan Z, Chen HYH (2010) Fine root biomass, production, turnover rates, and nutrient contents in boreal forest ecosystems in relation to species, climate, fertility, and stand age: literature review and meta-analyses. Crit Rev Plant Sci 29:204–221CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Yuan Z, Chen HYH (2012) Fine root dynamics with stand development in the boreal forest. Funct Ecol 26:991–998CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Yuan Z, Li B, Bai X, Shi S, Ye J, Wang X, Hao Z (2010) Composition and seasonal dynamics of litterfalls in a broad-leaved Korean pine (Pinus koraiensis) mixed forest in Changbai Mountains, Northeast China. Chin J Appl Ecol 21:2171–2178Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yong Zhou
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jiaqi Su
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ivan A. Janssens
    • 3
  • Guangsheng Zhou
    • 1
    • 4
  • Chunwang Xiao
    • 1
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Vegetation and Environmental Change, Institute of BotanyThe Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.Department of Biology, Research Group of Plant and Vegetation EcologyUniversity of AntwerpWilrijkBelgium
  4. 4.Chinese Academy of Meteorological SciencesBeijingChina

Personalised recommendations