Plant and Soil

, Volume 381, Issue 1–2, pp 225–234 | Cite as

Relation of fine root distribution to soil C in a Cunninghamia lanceolata plantation in subtropical China

  • Yingchun Liao
  • M. Luke McCormack
  • Houbao Fan
  • Huimin Wang
  • Jianping Wu
  • Jie Tu
  • Wenfei Liu
  • Dali Guo
Regular Article


Background and aims

Growth and distribution of fine roots closely depend on soil resource availability and affect soil C distribution in return. Understanding of relationships between fine root distribution and soil C can help to predict the contribution of fine root turnover to soil C accumulation.


A study was conducted in a subtropical Cunninghamia lanceolata plantation to assess the fine root mass density (FRMD), fine root C density (FRCD) of different fine root groups as well as their relations with soil C.


The FRMD and FRCD of short-lived roots, dead roots and herb roots peaked in the 0–10 cm soil layer and decreased with soil depth, while FRMD, FRCD of long-lived roots peaked in the 10–20 cm soil layer. Soil C was positively related to FRMD and FRCD of total fine roots (across all three soil layers), dead roots (0–10 cm) and herb roots (10–20 cm) as well as FRCD of short-lived roots (20–40 cm) (P <0.05).


Soil C was mainly affected by herb roots in upper soil layers and by woody plant roots in deeper soil layers.


Fine roots Soil C Soil N Fine root mass density Fine root C density 



This study was financially supported by the National Key Basic Research Program of China (2012CB416903), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31210103920; 31200406; 31260172).


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yingchun Liao
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • M. Luke McCormack
    • 1
  • Houbao Fan
    • 2
  • Huimin Wang
    • 1
  • Jianping Wu
    • 2
  • Jie Tu
    • 2
  • Wenfei Liu
    • 2
  • Dali Guo
    • 1
  1. 1.Qianyanzhou Ecological Research Station, Key Laboratory of Ecosystem Network Observation and Modeling, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources ResearchChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.Institute of Ecology & Environmental ScienceNanchang Institute of TechnologyNanchangChina
  3. 3.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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