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The Effects of Crop Tree Management on the Fine Root Traits of Pinus massoniana in Sichuan Province, China

by Xiangjun Li 1,2, Yu Su 3, Haifeng Yin 1,2, Size Liu 1,2, Gang Chen 1,2, Chuan Fan 1,2, Maosong Feng 1,2 and Xianwei Li 1,2,*
1
College of Forestry, Sichuan Agricultural University, Chengdu 611130, China
2
Key Laboratory of National Forestry and Prairie Bureau on Forest Resources Conservation and Ecological Security in the Upper Reaches of Yangtze River (Sichuan Agricultrual University), Chengdu 611130, China
3
Sichuan Academy of Forestry Sciences, Chengdu 610036, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Forests 2020, 11(3), 351; https://doi.org/10.3390/f11030351
Received: 20 February 2020 / Revised: 16 March 2020 / Accepted: 19 March 2020 / Published: 20 March 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Application of Innovative Silvicultural Treatments on Pine Forests)
Pinus massoniana is an important tree species for wind protection and timber forests in Southern China. In recent years, P. massoniana plantations have been developed on more than 11,300,000 hm2 in southern China, but numerous problems have been observed, such as soil degradation, biodiversity reduction, and ecological functional decline. Crop tree management impacts on fine root development, which can be explained by the variations in the root orders. In this study, a 36-year-old P. massoniana plantation located in Huaying, Sichuan Province, was selected as the research field. In 2015, crop tree management was initiated, with a crop tree intensity of 150 trees per hectare. After 3 years of growth, fine roots of crop and noncrop trees were collected by the sector method with an angle of 15 degrees and a radius of 2 meters. We analyzed the morphological characteristics and biomass in different root orders, and explored their carbon and nitrogen contents. The results were as follows: (1) The specific root length (SRL), root length density (RLD), and surface root area (SRA) of the crop trees were larger than those of the noncrop trees; the SRL increased significantly from 0–0.5 m to 1–1.5 m from the stem. (2) The fine root biomass of the crop trees was significantly larger than that of the noncrop trees. The fine root biomass of the crop and the noncrop trees increased with the horizontal distance from the stem from 0–0.5 m to 1–1.5 m. The morphological indexes of the noncrop trees at the distances of 1–1.5 m and 1.5–2 m were significantly different, while those of the crop trees at those distances were not. (3) The fine root C content of the crop trees was significantly higher than that of the noncrop trees and varied significantly along a vertical distribution. The fine root N content of the crop trees was significantly higher than that of the noncrop trees, and the N content of topsoil was higher than that of deeper soil. In conclusion, our results indicated that crop tree management increased the production of a large-diameter wood of P. massoniana, which might be attributed to the improvement of soil permeability and nutrient stock, and thus, the enhancement of fine root quantity and water/nutrient absorption ability. View Full-Text
Keywords: biomass; crop trees; carbon and nitrogen content; fine roots; soil physical properties biomass; crop trees; carbon and nitrogen content; fine roots; soil physical properties
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Li, X.; Su, Y.; Yin, H.; Liu, S.; Chen, G.; Fan, C.; Feng, M.; Li, X. The Effects of Crop Tree Management on the Fine Root Traits of Pinus massoniana in Sichuan Province, China. Forests 2020, 11, 351.

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