Root standing crop and chemistry after six years of soil warming in a temperate forest
Melillo, Jerry M.
Butler, Sarah M.
Mohan, Jacqueline E.
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Examining the responses of root standing crop (biomass and necromass) and chemistry to soil warming is crucial for understanding 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 six years of experimental 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 the live root standing crops 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 carbon 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 to 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 carbon allocation belowground.
Author Posting. © The Author(s), 2010. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of Oxford University Press for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Tree Physiology 31 (2011): 707-717, doi:10.1093/treephys/tpr066.