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Review of root dynamics in forest ecosystems grouped by climate, climatic forest type and species

Abstract

Patterns of both above- and belowground biomass and production were evaluated using published information from 200 individual data-sets. Data sets were comprised of the following types of information: organic matter storage in living and dead biomass (e.g. surface organic horizons and soil organic matter accumulations), above- and belowground net primary production (NPP) and biomass, litter transfers, climatic data (i.e. precipitation and temperature), and nutrient storage (N, P, Ca, K) in above- and belowground biomass, soil organic matter and litter transfers. Forests were grouped by climate, foliage life-span, species and soil order. Several climatic and nutrient variables were regressed against fine root biomass or net primary production to determine what variables were most useful in predicting their dynamics. There were no significant or consistent patterns for above- and belowground biomass accumulation or NPP change across the different climatic forest types and by soil order. Similarly, there were no consistent patterns of soil organic matter (SOM) accumulation by climatic forest type but SOM varied significantly by soil order—the chemistry of the soil was more important in determining the amount of organic matter accumulation than climate. Soil orders which were high in aluminum, iron, and clay (e.g. Ultisols, Oxisols) had high total living and dead organic matter accumulations-especially in the cold temperate zone and in the tropics. Climatic variables and nutrient storage pools (i.e. in the forest floor) successfully predicted fine root NPP but not fine root biomass which was better predicted by nutrients in litterfall. The importance of grouping information by species based on their adaptive strategies for water and nutrient-use is suggested by the data. Some species groups did not appear to be sensitive to large changes in either climatic or nutrient variables while for others these variables explained a large proportion of the variation in fine root biomass and/or NPP.

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Vogt, K.A., Vogt, D.J., Palmiotto, P.A. et al. Review of root dynamics in forest ecosystems grouped by climate, climatic forest type and species. Plant Soil 187, 159–219 (1995). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00017088

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Key words

  • above- and belowground biomass and production
  • above- and belowground litter transfers
  • boreal forests
  • climatic variables
  • cold and warm temperate forests
  • forest floor accumulations
  • nutrients
  • soil organic matter
  • subtropical and tropical forests