Interspecific competition impacts on the morphology and distribution of fine roots in European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) and Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst.)

Bolte, A.; Villanueva, I.

European Journal of Forest Research 125(1): 15-26

2006


ISSN/ISBN: 1612-4669
DOI: 10.1007/s10342-005-0075-5
Accession: 004444547

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Abstract
Morphology and vertical distribution patterns of spruce and beech live fine roots (diameter=2 mm) were studied using a soil core method in three comparable mature stands in the Solling: (1) pure beech, (2) pure spruce and (3) mixed spruce-beech. This study was aimed at determining the effects of interspecific competition on fine root structure and spatial fine root distribution of both species. A vertical stratification of beech and spruce fine root systems was found in the mixed stand due to a shift in beech fine roots from upper to lower soil layers. Moreover, compared to pure beech, a significantly higher specific root length (SRL, P<0.05) and specific surface area (SSA, P<0.05) were found for beech admixed with spruce (pure beech/mixed beech SRL 16.1-23.4 m g-1, SSA 286-367 cm2 g-1). Both indicate a flexible 'foraging' strategy of beech tending to increase soil exploitation and space sequestration efficiency in soil layers less occupied by competitors. Spruce, in contrast, followed a more conservative strategy keeping the shallow vertical rooting and the root morphology quite constant in both pure and mixed stands (pure spruce/mixed spruce SRL 9.6/7.7 m g-1, P>0.10; SSA 225/212 cm2 g-1, P>0.10). Symmetric competition belowground between mixed beech and spruce was observed since live fine roots of both species were under-represented compared to pure stand. However, the higher space sequestration efficiency suggests a higher competitive ability of beech belowground.

Interspecific competition impacts on the morphology and distribution of fine roots in European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) and Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst.)