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Impacts of morphological traits and temperature on fine root respiration during dormancy of Caragana korshinskii

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Respiration of fine roots (R fr) plays a major role in belowground carbon cycles, but the relationships between R fr and biotic and abiotic factors during plant dormancy remain unclear. We used a standard chamber equipped with an infrared gas analyzer and configured as an open system to measure R fr of intact roots (<2 mm) of Caragana korshinskii in situ in November 2013. Rates of R fr in C. korshinskii were closely related to root morphological traits, including mean root diameter (D fr, mm), specific root length (SRL, root length per unit root mass, m g−1), and root tissue density (RTD, root mass per unit root volume, g cm−3). During dormancy of C. korshinskii, smaller-diameter fine roots had higher respiration rates than larger diameter fine roots, and R fr increased with increasing SRL and decreasing RTD. Meanwhile, R fr rates increased exponentially with increasing root temperature. Soil temperature (especially in the subsoil layer) did not play a role in controlling changes in R fr. The results indicated that changes in root temperature and D fr were likely to determine rates of R fr in C. korshinskii during dormancy. Our results highlight the importance of assessing carbon loss from fine roots during the dormant period.

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This study was supported by the National Science and Technology Support Program of the 12th Five-Year Plan (No. 2012BAD16B02).We would particularly like to thank Shijun Liu, a manager at Yanchi Research Station, for his help with root respiration measurements in the field.

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Correspondence to Yuqing Zhang or Bin Wu.

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Lai, Z., Zhang, Y., Wu, B. et al. Impacts of morphological traits and temperature on fine root respiration during dormancy of Caragana korshinskii . Ecol Res 30, 337–345 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11284-014-1227-1

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  • Root diameter
  • Specific root length
  • Root tissue density
  • Temperature
  • Root morphology