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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Root standing crop and chemistry after six years of soil warming in a temperate forest

Authors:

Y. Zhou

JIANWU TANG

Jerry Melillo

S. Butler

J. Mohan

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
2011
Secondary Title:
Tree Physiology
ISSN:
1758-4469
DOI:
10.1093/treephys/tpr066
Pages:
707-717
Volume:
31
Year:
2011
Date:
07/2011

Abstract

Examining the responses of root standing crop (biomass and necromass) and chemistry to soil warming is crucial for under- standing root dynamics and functioning in the face of global climate change. We assessed the standing crop, total nitrogen (N) and carbon (C) compounds in tree roots and soil net N mineralization over the growing season after 6 years of experimen- tal soil warming in a temperate deciduous forest in 2008. Roots were sorted into four different categories: live and dead fine roots (<=1 mm in diameter) and live and dead coarse roots (1–4 mm in diameter). Total root standing crop (live plus dead) in the top 10 cm of soil in the warmed area was 42.5% (378.4 vs. 658.5 g m-2) lower than in the control area, while live root standing crop in the warmed area was 62% lower than in the control area. Soil net N mineralization over the growing season increased by 79.4% in the warmed relative to the control area. Soil warming did not significantly change the concentrations of C and C compounds (sugar, starch, hemicellulose, cellulose and lignin) in the four root categories. However, total N concentration in the live fine roots in the warmed area was 10.5% (13.7 vs. 12.4 mg g-1) higher and C:N ratio was 8.6% (38.5 vs. 42.1) lower than in the control area. The increase in N concentration in the live fine roots could be attributed to the increase in soil N availability due to soil warming. Net N mineralization was negatively correlated with both live and dead fine roots in the mineral soil that is home to the majority of roots, suggesting that soil warming increases N mineralization, decreases fine root biomass and thus decreases C allocation belowground.