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Oecologia. 2015 Feb;177(2):581-94. doi: 10.1007/s00442-014-3107-3. Epub 2014 Oct 10.

Does species richness affect fine root biomass and production in young forest plantations?

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Joensuu Unit, Finnish Forest Research Institute, P.O. Box 68, 80101, Joensuu, Finland,


Tree species diversity has been reported to increase forest ecosystem above-ground biomass and productivity, but little is known about below-ground biomass and production in diverse mixed forests compared to single-species forests. For testing whether species richness increases below-ground biomass and production and thus complementarity between forest tree species in young stands, we determined fine root biomass and production of trees and ground vegetation in two experimental plantations representing gradients in tree species richness. Additionally, we measured tree fine root length and determined species composition from fine root biomass samples with the near-infrared reflectance spectroscopy method. We did not observe higher biomass or production in mixed stands compared to monocultures. Neither did we observe any differences in tree root length or fine root turnover. One reason for this could be that these stands were still young, and canopy closure had not always taken place, i.e. a situation where above- or below-ground competition did not yet exist. Another reason could be that the rooting traits of the tree species did not differ sufficiently to support niche differentiation. Our results suggested that functional group identity (i.e. conifers vs. broadleaved species) can be more important for below-ground biomass and production than the species richness itself, as conifers seemed to be more competitive in colonising the soil volume, compared to broadleaved species.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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