Plant and Soil

, Volume 374, Issue 1–2, pp 73–88 | Cite as

Fine root turnover and litter production of Norway spruce in a long-term temperature and nutrient manipulation experiment

  • Jaana Leppälammi-KujansuuEmail author
  • Maija Salemaa
  • Dan Berggren Kleja
  • Sune Linder
  • Heljä-Sisko Helmisaari
Regular Article


Background and aims

Increased soil temperature and nutrient availability enhance soil biological activity. We studied how these affect fine root growth and survival, i.e. below-ground litter production, in relation to above-ground foliage litter production of Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst.).


The treatments, irrigation (I), soil warming + irrigation (WI), fertilization + irrigation (FI) and soil warming + fertilization + irrigation (WFI) were started in 1987 (F, I) and in 1995 (W). The annual production of fine root litter was estimated from minirhizotrons (survival) and soil-cores (biomass) and the annual above-ground litter production from litter traps.

Results and conclusions

The number and elongation of fine roots tended to be higher in WI and I compared to the other treatments, which may indicate nutrient shortage. Fine roots in the WFI treatment had the lowest median longevity and from three to fourfold higher below-ground litter production compared to WI, FI or I - higher soil temperature increased the litter input particularly into the mineral soil. Only fertilization increased the above-ground litter production. As warmer and more nutrient-rich soil significantly shortened the fine root lifespan and increased the litter input, the storage of carbon in boreal forest soil may increase in the future.


Long-term soil warming Long-term fertilization Fine root longevity Minirhizotron Litter production Picea abies Survival analysis 



This study was funded by the Swedish Research Council Formas, the Maj and Tor Nessling Foundation and the Academy of Finland. The authors are grateful to all involved in the establishment and maintenance of the Flakaliden research site over many years. The minirhizotron tubes used in this study were originally set by prof. Hooshang Majdi, deceased in 2007. At the Finnish Forest Research Institute we thank Juha Heikkinen for statistical assistance and Tauno Suomilammi, Jarmo Mäkinen and Juha Kemppainen for technical assistance. The language of the manuscript was revised by Michael Bailey.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jaana Leppälammi-Kujansuu
    • 1
    Email author
  • Maija Salemaa
    • 2
  • Dan Berggren Kleja
    • 3
  • Sune Linder
    • 4
  • Heljä-Sisko Helmisaari
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Forest SciencesUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  2. 2.Finnish Forest Research InstituteVantaaFinland
  3. 3.Department of Soil and EnvironmentSwedish University of Agricultural SciencesUppsalaSweden
  4. 4.Southern Swedish Forest Research CentreSwedish University of Agricultural SciencesAlnarpSweden

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