Relationships between tree dimension and coarse root biomass in mixed stands of European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) and Norway spruce (Picea abies Karst.)

Bolte, A.; Rahmann, T.; Kuhr, M.; Pogoda, P.; Murach, D.; Gadow, K. v

Plant and Soil 264(1/2): 1-11


ISSN/ISBN: 0032-079X
DOI: 10.1023/b:plso.0000047777.23344.a3
Accession: 004298776

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Relationships between tree parameters above ground and the biomass of the coarse root system were examined in six mixed spruce-beech stands in the Solling Mountain region in northwest Germany. The selected stands were located on comparable sites and covered an age range of 44 to 114 years. Coarse roots (d>=2 mm) of 42 spruce and 27 beech trees were sampled by excavating the entire root system. A linear model with logarithmic transformation of the variables was developed to describe the relationship between the coarse root biomass (CRB, dry weight) and the corresponding tree diameter at breast height (DBH). The coefficients of determination (R2) attained values between 0.92 for spruce and 0.94 for beech; the logarithmic standard deviation values were between 0.29 and 0.43. A significantly different effect of tree species on the model estimates could not be detected by an analysis of co-variance (ANCOVA). For spruce, the derived relationships were similar to those reported in previous studies, but not for beech. Biomass partitioning in the tree compartments above and below ground differs significantly between spruce (coarse root/shoot ratio 0.16+or-0.06) and beech (coarse root/shoot ratio 0.10+or-0.03) in the mixed stands. These results are similar to those given in other studies involving pure spruce and beech stands on comparable sites in the region, although the ratios of pure stands in other regions growing under different site conditions are somewhat higher. Comparing trees of the same DBH classes, root/shoot ratios of spruce are 1.2 to 3 times higher than those of beech. Dominant spruce trees (DBH>60 cm) attained the highest ratios, suppressed beech trees (DBH<10 cm) the lowest. Site conditions of varying climate and soils and interspecific tree competition are likely to affect root/shoot ratio and DBH-coarse root biomass relationships. The greater variability in beech compared with spruce indicates a high 'plasticity' and adaptability of beech carbon allocation. Thus, the derived equations are useful for biomass estimates of coarse roots involving trees of different ages in mixed stands of spruce and beech in the Solling Mountains. However, application of these relationships to stands in other regions would need further testing.