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Forests 2016, 7(10), 234; doi:10.3390/f7100234

Early Stage Fine-Root Decomposition and Its Relationship with Root Order and Soil Depth in a Larix gmelinii Plantation

1
Key Laboratory of Forest Ecology and Management, Institute of Applied Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shenyang 110016, China
2
Institute of Applied Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shenyang 110016, China
3
Northeast Forestry University, Harbin 150040, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Björn Berg
Received: 3 June 2016 / Revised: 8 October 2016 / Accepted: 10 October 2016 / Published: 13 October 2016
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [881 KB, uploaded 13 October 2016]   |  

Abstract

Characterization of decomposition dynamics of fine roots is essential for understanding vegetation–soil feedbacks and predicting ecosystem responses to future climate scenarios, given their more rapid turnover rates. Using a branch-order classification, we separated the fine root systems of Larix gmelinii into two classes: first- and second-order roots combined into one (lower-order); third- and fourth-order roots combined into another (higher-order). In a field experiment, we conducted a litterbag study to investigate fine root decomposition and its relationship with root order class and soil depth over 17 months. Despite their lower C:N ratio and smaller diameter, lower-order roots decomposed more slowly compared with higher-order roots over this period. This pattern also seems to hold true at each different depths (10, 20 and 30 cm) in the soil profile. Our data suggest that the slow decomposition rate of lower-order roots may result from their poor carbon quality. Moreover, we found that the decomposition rates of both lower-order and higher-order roots decreased linearly from 10 cm to 30 cm, which implied that a substantially larger fraction of fine root mass would be stabilized as soil organic carbon in the deeper rather than the upper soil layers. View Full-Text
Keywords: decomposition; root order; soil depth; Larix gmelinii; Northeastern China decomposition; root order; soil depth; Larix gmelinii; Northeastern China
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Sun, T.; Dong, L.; Zhang, L.; Wu, Z.; Wang, Q.; Li, Y.; Zhang, H.; Wang, Z. Early Stage Fine-Root Decomposition and Its Relationship with Root Order and Soil Depth in a Larix gmelinii Plantation. Forests 2016, 7, 234.

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