Plant and Soil

, Volume 335, Issue 1–2, pp 469–478 | Cite as

Vertical patterns of fine root biomass, morphology and nitrogen concentration in a subalpine fir-wave forest

  • Shin Ugawa
  • Satoru Miura
  • Kojiro Iwamoto
  • Shinji Kaneko
  • Kenji Fukuda
Regular Article


To clarify the nutrient acquisition strategies for below-ground resources in a subalpine Abies forest with shallow soils, we examined the vertical patterns of fine root biomass, morphology, nitrogen concentration of fine root tissue and soil chemical characteristics in nine quadrats of sapling, young and mature stands in a subalpine fir-wave forest, central Japan. The community characteristics changed with stand development, but stand development did not influence the vertical pattern of fine root characteristics. Fine root biomass decreased with soil depth. Specific root length did not differ among soil depths, and neither average diameter nor tissue density of fine roots changed vertically. The nitrogen concentration of fine roots differed significantly among soil depths, and was higher in surface soils than in deeper soils. Moreover, soil pH, soil electrical conductivity and soil nitrogen concentration were higher in surface layers than deeper layers. Therefore, we suggest that the subalpine Abies community has a nutrient acquisition strategy that allows uptake of more nutrients near the surface in shallow soils due to the larger investment in biomass and more active metabolism, but not due to phenotypic plasticity in fine root morphology. In addition, we observed that fine root biomass changed with stand development, where specific root length was greater in sapling stands than in older stands.


Fine root biomass Nitrogen concentration Soil depth Specific root length Stand development Subalpine fir-wave forest 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shin Ugawa
    • 1
  • Satoru Miura
    • 1
  • Kojiro Iwamoto
    • 2
  • Shinji Kaneko
    • 1
  • Kenji Fukuda
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Forest Site EnvironmentForestry and Forest Products Research InstituteIbarakiJapan
  2. 2.Tama Forest Science GardenForestry and Forest Products Research InstituteTokyoJapan
  3. 3.Institute of Environmental Studies, Graduate School of Frontier SciencesThe University of TokyoChibaJapan

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