Fine-root growth in a forested bog is seasonally dynamic, but shallowly distributed in nutrient-poor peat

  • Colleen M. Iversen
  • Joanne Childs
  • Richard J. Norby
  • Todd A. Ontl
  • Randall K. Kolka
  • Deanne J. Brice
  • Karis J. McFarlane
  • Paul J. Hanson
Regular Article

Abstract

Background and aims

Fine roots contribute to ecosystem carbon, water, and nutrient fluxes through resource acquisition, respiration, exudation, and turnover, but are understudied in peatlands. We aimed to determine how the amount and timing of fine-root growth in a forested, ombrotrophic bog varied across gradients of vegetation density, peat microtopography, and changes in environmental conditions across the growing season and throughout the peat profile.

Methods

We quantified fine-root peak standing crop and growth using non-destructive minirhizotron technology over a two-year period, focusing on the dominant woody species in the bog: Picea mariana, Larix laricina, Rhododendron groenlandicum, and Chamaedaphne calyculata.

Results

The fine roots of trees and shrubs were concentrated in raised hummock microtopography, with more tree roots associated with greater tree densities and a unimodal peak in shrub roots at intermediate tree densities. Fine-root growth tended to be seasonally dynamic, but shallowly distributed, in a thin layer of nutrient-poor, aerobic peat above the growing season water table level.

Conclusions

The dynamics and distribution of fine roots in this forested ombrotrophic bog varied across space and time in response to biological, edaphic, and climatic conditions, and we expect these relationships to be sensitive to projected environmental changes in northern peatlands.

Keywords

Fine roots Nutrient availability Peatlands Rooting depth distribution Root growth Root peak standing crop 

Supplementary material

11104_2017_3231_MOESM1_ESM.docx (6.1 mb)
ESM 1(DOCX 6.09 MB)

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland (outside the USA)  2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Colleen M. Iversen
    • 1
  • Joanne Childs
    • 1
  • Richard J. Norby
    • 1
  • Todd A. Ontl
    • 2
  • Randall K. Kolka
    • 3
  • Deanne J. Brice
    • 1
  • Karis J. McFarlane
    • 4
  • Paul J. Hanson
    • 1
  1. 1.Climate Change Science Institute and Environmental Sciences Division, Oak Ridge National LaboratoryOak RidgeUSA
  2. 2.USDA Forest Service, Northern Research StationHoughtonUSA
  3. 3.USDA Forest Service, Northern Research StationGrand RapidsUSA
  4. 4.Center for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry, Lawrence Livermore National LaboratoryLivermoreUSA

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