Plant and Soil

, Volume 378, Issue 1–2, pp 113–123 | Cite as

Root and shoot biomasses in the tropical dry forest of semi-arid Northeast Brazil

  • Tânia L. CostaEmail author
  • Everardo V. S. B. Sampaio
  • Margareth F. Sales
  • Luciano J. O. Accioly
  • Tiago D. Althoff
  • Frans G. C. Pareyn
  • Eliza R. G. M. Albuquerque
  • Rômulo S. C. Menezes
Regular Article



Root and shoot biomasses and their ratio (R:S) were determined for three stages of forest regeneration (18, 40 and > 60 years.), and for open and dense vegetation, in four soil classes in the semi-arid region of Northeast Brazil.


Shoot biomasses were estimated by allometry and roots were collected in 0.7 × 0.7 × 1 m trenches.


Root and shoot biomasses and the R:S ratio were over double in the >60 year-old vegetation (R:S = 0.67) when compared to more recent regenerated areas (0.32). In dense vegetation the biomass of roots and shoots were also more than the double of those in open vegetation but the R:S ratios were not significantly different (0.51 and 0.49). Litholic Neosols had lower ratio (0.22) than the other soil classes (0.53 to 0.63) and dense and open vegetation did not differ. In all areas except in deep sandy Quartzarenic Neosols most of the roots (> 90 %) were in the upper 40-cm layer of the soil profile, and consisted of coarse roots.


Root biomass accumulates more slowly than aboveground biomass and it takes several decades to stabilize in shallower soils. The R:S ratios are higher when compared to other dry land forests, probably due to low water availability.


caatinga Root-shoot ratio Successional stages 



The authors are grateful to Conselho Nacional de Pesquisa e Desenvolvimento (CNPq) for the master scholarship of the first author and research fellowship of the second and eighth authors. They are also grateful to CNPq and to Fundação de Ciência e Tecnologia de Pernambuco (FACEPE) for the financial and logistical support, mainly through the Project “Impactos de Mudanças Climáticas Sobre a Cobertura e Uso da Terra em Pernambuco: Geração e Disponibilização de Informações para o Subsídio a Políticas Públicas (Processo APQ-0077-5.01/09, edital 05-2010)”. The authors are also grateful to Dr. Vanderlise Giongo, of EMBRAPA Semiárido for the access to part of her unpublished data.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tânia L. Costa
    • 1
    Email author
  • Everardo V. S. B. Sampaio
    • 2
  • Margareth F. Sales
    • 3
  • Luciano J. O. Accioly
    • 4
  • Tiago D. Althoff
    • 2
  • Frans G. C. Pareyn
    • 5
  • Eliza R. G. M. Albuquerque
    • 1
  • Rômulo S. C. Menezes
    • 2
  1. 1.Programa de Pós-Graduação em Botânica/Departamento de BiologiaUniversidade Federal Rural de PernambucoRecifeBrazil
  2. 2.Departamento de Energia NuclearUniversidade Federal de Pernambuco.RecifeBrazil
  3. 3.Departamento de BiologiaUniversidade Federal Rural de PernambucoRecifeBrazil
  4. 4.Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisa Agropecuária, RecifeRecifeBrazil
  5. 5.Associação Plantas do NordesteRecifeBrazil

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