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New Phytol. 2008;179(3):837-47. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8137.2008.02516.x. Epub 2008 Jun 5.

CO2 enrichment increases carbon and nitrogen input from fine roots in a deciduous forest.

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Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN, USA.


* Greater fine-root production under elevated [CO2] may increase the input of carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) to the soil profile because fine root populations turn over quickly in forested ecosystems. * Here, the effect of elevated [CO)] was assessed on root biomass and N inputs at several soil depths by combining a long-term minirhizotron dataset with continuous, root-specific measurements of root mass and [N]. The experiment was conducted in a CO(2)-enriched sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua) plantation. * CO2) enrichment had no effect on root tissue density or [N] within a given diameter class. Root biomass production and standing crop were doubled under elevated [CO2]. Though fine-root turnover declined under elevated [CO2], fine-root mortality was also nearly doubled under CO2 enrichment. Over 9 yr, root mortality resulted in 681 g m(-2) of extra C and 9 g m(-2) of extra N input to the soil system under elevated [CO2]. At least half of these inputs were below 30 cm soil depth. * Increased C and N input to the soil under CO2 enrichment, especially below 30 cm depth, might alter soil C storage and N mineralization. Future research should focus on quantifying root decomposition dynamics and C and N mineralization deeper in the soil.

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