Fine root biomass, production and turnover rates in plantations versus natural forests: effects of stand characteristics and soil properties

Abstract

Aims

Fine roots play a significant role in regulating the biogeochemical cycles of forest ecosystems, but how fine root biomass (FRB), production (FRP) and turnover rates (FRT) vary with forest origins remains not well understood.

Methods

The meta-analysis approach was used to examine the differences in FRB, FRP and FRT between plantations and their adjacent natural forests based on 238 cases reported in 45 published studies.

Results

FRB and FRP were 36.5% and 36.0% lower, respectively, in plantations than in natural forests. FRT was 22.4% higher in plantations relative to natural forests. The decrease in FRB in plantations relative to natural forests varied among plantations with different plant genera and root diameter classes. The general patterns for FRP and FRT in relation to various factors (biogeographic zone, leaf form, leaf seasonality, plant genus in plantations, and root diameter class) did not differ among the groups. The difference in FRB between plantations and natural forests was positively correlated with stand age but negatively related with soil total nitrogen concentration, the difference in FRP was positively affected by diameter at breast height (DBH) and soil pH, and the difference in FRT was positively affected by DBH, tree height, soil bulk density and soil pH and negatively affected by soil organic carbon and total nitrogen concentration.

Conclusions

FRB, FRP and FRT exhibit significant differences between plantations and natural forests and that these differences are partially caused by shifts in stand characteristics and variations in soil properties.

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Acknowledgements

We thank all the researchers whose data were used in this study and anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments and suggestions. This work was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 31730015), the China Postdoctoral Science Foundation Funded Project (No. 2017M621232) and the Heilongjiang Postdoctoral Foundation (No. LBH-Z17004).

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Correspondence to Guangze Jin.

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Cai, H., Li, F. & Jin, G. Fine root biomass, production and turnover rates in plantations versus natural forests: effects of stand characteristics and soil properties. Plant Soil 436, 463–474 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11104-019-03948-8

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Keywords

  • Fine roots
  • Forest origins
  • Planted forests
  • Stand structure
  • Soil nutrient