Organic matter dynamics of fine roots in plantations of slash pine (Pinus elliottii) in north Florida

Gholz, H.L.; Hendry, L.C.; Cropper, W.P.J.

Canadian Journal of Forest Research 16(3): 529-538


ISSN/ISBN: 0045-5067
DOI: 10.1139/x86-093
Accession: 001422768

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Seasonal patterns of live, dead, and unknown viability fine (diameter, .ltoreq. 10 mm) roots of pine and other vegetation in a young and old slash pine stand were sampled using monthly soil coring over a 24-month period. A distinct unimodal pattern for roots < 1 mm in diameter in the surface soil was observed. Live roots increased in the spring to a peak in midsummer and then declined. Larger roots and roots deeper in the soil showed less distinct seasonal patterns, although maximum and minimum annual biomass values were sometimes significantly different. Decomposition of fine roots in buried mesh bags averaged 15-20% per year for roots < 5 mm in diameter. An analysis of seasonal dynamics and decomposition rates were combined to construct organic matter budgets for the forest floor and soil. Estimated net root production for roots .ltoreq. 10 mm in diameter was 590 and 626 g m-2 year-1 in the young and old stand, respectively. Root turnover contributed 214 and 452 g m-2 year-1 to detrital pools on the two sites, with the balance of production accumulating as standing root biomass or lost in decomposition. Root production and turnover rates decreased with increasing root diameter; most production was from roots < 1 mm. Pine root production was greater and nonpine production was less in the older stand than in the younger stand. Compared with other temperate and boreal forests, root biomass was high and net root production relatively low. The low production:biomass ratio may be characteristic of low latitude (warm) and (or) low nutrient forest types.