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Tree Physiol. 1998 Apr;18(4):259-264.

Differences in root longevity of some tree species.

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The Scottish Agricultural College, West Mains Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JG, U.K.


Although the importance of root production and mortality to nutrient fluxes in ecosystems is widely recognized, the difficulties associated with root measurements have limited the availability of reliable data. We have used minirhizotrons and image analysis to measure root longevity of Prunus avium L., Picea sitchensis (Bong.) Carrière, Acer pseudoplatanus L. and Populus x canadensis cv. Beaupre directly in cohorts of roots. Major differences in the longevity of roots among species were identified. For example, 40% of Prunus avium roots but only 6% of Picea sitchensis roots survived for more than 14 days. Survival analysis of cohorts of roots of Prunus avium and Populus x canadensis revealed differences in the distribution of longevity among cohorts. Genetic, biotic and abiotic factors that may influence longevity are discussed.

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