Plant and Soil

, Volume 443, Issue 1–2, pp 323–335 | Cite as

Spatial and temporal patterns of root dynamics in a Bornean tropical rainforest monitored using the root scanner method

  • Izuki EndoEmail author
  • Tomonori Kume
  • Lip Khoon Kho
  • Ayumi Katayama
  • Naoki Makita
  • Hidetoshi Ikeno
  • Jun’ichiro Ide
  • Mizue Ohashi
Regular Article



Root phenology patterns in tropical regions are poorly understood because limited data are available. Using the root scanner method, the aims of this study were to clarify 1) the temporal phenology of root production and decomposition, 2) the spatial variability of the root phenology, and 3) the contribution of different root diameter classes to root production and decomposition.


Image acquisition was conducted monthly from April 2014 to May 2015 at five sites in a Bornean tropical rainforest. The projected area and length of root production and decomposition were derived manually from images using image-processing software and were grouped into 0.5-mm-diameter intervals.


The spatial distribution of root production and decomposition differed among the sites. Monthly projected root length indicated that the number and timing of peak root production and decomposition differed with each site. A substantial proportion of root production and decomposition was dominated by very fine roots (<0.5 mm diameter).


The scanner method was useful to monitor the root phenology at the root system scale though the scanner images cover only a portion of the root systems of mature trees. Different patterns of root phenology among the sites might be associated with the high diversity and the indistinct seasonality of the Bornean tropical rainforest.


Fine root Very fine root Root phenology Root production Root decomposition Aseasonal tropical rainforest 



We are grateful to the Forest Department, Sarawak, for their kind support of our research in Lambir Hills National Park. The authors greatly appreciate the effort taken by R. Yamauchi, University of Hyogo, for data acquisition. We would also like to thank Dr. T. Kimura, University of Hyogo, for assistance with image analysis. We thank Catherine Dandie, PhD, from Edanz Group ( for editing a draft of this manuscript. We would like to thank Dr. K. Matsumoto for the valuable comments on the manuscript. Data used in this paper are available from the corresponding author upon request. This study was financed in part by Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), Japan (Nos. 25304027, 16H02762). MO, TK, AK, NM designed the study, and IE wrote the initial draft of the manuscript. LKK contributed to acquisition of data. IE, MO, TK, NM, HI and JI contributed to analysis and interpretation of data, and assisted in the preparation of the manuscript. All other authors have contributed to data collection and interpretation, and critically reviewed the manuscript.

Supplementary material

11104_2019_4203_MOESM1_ESM.docx (18 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 17 kb)
11104_2019_4203_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (527 kb)
Supporting Fig. 1 Spatial distribution of root production. (a–e) Images for two sides of Boxes 1–5, respectively. The left row are images for the lower side and the right row are images for the upper side of the acrylic box. Each image is the final image generated by compiling all layers of the root growth image data during the study period. Different colors indicate different months in which the scanner image was taken. The dotted-line square in (e) indicates the area magnified in the image in Fig. 3. (PDF 527 kb)
11104_2019_4203_MOESM3_ESM.pdf (321 kb)
Supporting Fig. 2 Spatial distribution of root decomposition. (a–e) Images for two sides of Boxes 1–5, respectively. The left row shows images for the lower side and the right row shows images for the upper side of the acrylic box. Each image is the final image generated by compiling all layers of the root decomposition image data during the study period. Different colors indicate different months in which the scanner image was taken. The dotted-line square in (e) indicates the area magnified in the image in Fig. 5. (PDF 321 kb)
11104_2019_4203_MOESM4_ESM.pptx (144 kb)
Supporting Fig. 3 Root length ratio (%) of root production (a–e) and root decomposition (f–j) in five boxes. (a–e) and (f–j) present data for Boxes 1 to 5, respectively. (PPTX 144 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Izuki Endo
    • 1
    Email author
  • Tomonori Kume
    • 2
  • Lip Khoon Kho
    • 3
  • Ayumi Katayama
    • 2
  • Naoki Makita
    • 4
  • Hidetoshi Ikeno
    • 1
  • Jun’ichiro Ide
    • 5
  • Mizue Ohashi
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Human Science and EnvironmentUniversity of HyogoHimeji CityJapan
  2. 2.Kasuya Research ForestKyushu UniversityFukuoakaJapan
  3. 3.Biological Research DivisionMalaysian Palm Oil BoardKajangMalaysia
  4. 4.Faculty of ScienceShinshu UniversityNaganoJapan
  5. 5.Institute of Decision Science for a Sustainable SocietyKyushu UniversityFukuoakaJapan

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