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Root density and root biomass in pure and mixed forest stands of Douglas-fir and Beech


Root density and root biomass in pure and mixed forest stands of Douglas-fir and Beech



Netherlands Journal of Agricultural Science 43(3): 321-331



Belowground interactions possibly play an important role in the success of mixed forests. Therefore, root density, root length, root biomass and rooting pattern were surveyed in pure and mixed forest stands of Douglas-fir and Beech. Each type of stand was represented by ones approximately 40- and 70-year-old. The study was restricted to fine roots ( lt 2 mm). The highest root length, 184 times 10-6 m ha-1, was found in a 64-year-old pure Beech stand. The smallest root length was 67 times 10-6 m ha-1, found in a 60-year-old pure Douglas-fir stand. In the mixed stands, the soil layers at 0.15-0.30 m and 0.30-0.45 m were more intensively rooted than in the pure stands. In the mixed stands, Beech was strongly suppressed by Douglas-fir, although Beech managed to develop an equal or even larger root length than Douglas-fir. In the mixed stands the specific root lengths of the fine roots of Douglas-fir and Beech were higher than in the pure stands, which may indicate below-ground competition. In the mixed stands the below-ground competition between the different species leads to a different use of soil resources by fine roots. Furthermore, there are indications that in the mixed stands, as a reaction to the strong above-ground domination of Douglas-fir, Beech develops a rooting strategy which ensures the possibility of above-ground expansion when the growth of Douglas-fir declines.

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