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Tree Physiol. 2006 Jul;26(7):833-44.

Influences of canopy photosynthesis and summer rain pulses on root dynamics and soil respiration in a young ponderosa pine forest.

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Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, 151 Hilgard Hall, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720-3110, USA.


Our first objective was to link the seasonality of fine root dynamics with soil respiration in a ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa P. & C. Lawson) plantation located in the Sierra Nevada of California. The second objective was to examine how canopy photosynthesis influences fine root initiation, growth and mortality in this ecosystem. We compared CO2 flux measurements with aboveground and belowground root dynamics. Initiation of fine root growth coincided with tree stem thickening and shoot elongation, preceding new needle growth. In the spring, root, shoot and stem growth occurred simultaneously with the increase in canopy photosynthesis. Compared with the other tree components, initial growth rate of fine roots was the highest and their growing period was the shortest. Both above and belowground components completed 90% of their growth by the end of July and the growing season lasted approximately 80 days. The period for optimal growth is short at the study site because of low soil temperatures during winter and low soil water content during summer. High photosynthetic rates were observed following unusual late-summer rains, but tree growth did not resume. The autotrophic contribution to soil respiration was 49% over the whole season, with daily contributions ranging between 18 and 87%. Increases in soil and ecosystem respiration were observed during spring growth; however, the largest variation in soil respiration occurred during summer rain events when no growth was observed. Both the magnitude and persistence of the soil respiration pulses were positively correlated with the amount of rain. These pulses accounted for 16.5% of soil respiration between Days 130 and 329.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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