Fine roots (<2 mm) are very dynamic and play a key role in forest ecosystem carbon and nutrient cycling and accumulation. We reviewed root biomass data of three main European tree species European beech, (Fagus sylvatica L.), Norway spruce (Picea abies L. Karst.) and Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.), in order to identify the differences between species, and within and between vegetation zones, and to show the relationships between root biomass and the climatic, site and stand factors. The collected literature consisted of data from 36 beech, 71 spruce and 43 pine stands. The mean fine root biomass of beech was 389 g m-2, and that of spruce and pine 297 g m-2 and 277 g m-2, respectively. Data from pine stands supported the hypothesis that root biomass is higher in the temperate than in the boreal zone. The results indicated that the root biomass of deciduous trees is higher than that of conifers. The correlations between root biomass and site fertility characteristics seemed to be species specific. There was no correlation between soil acidity and root biomass. Beech fine root biomass decreased with stand age whereas pine root biomass increased with stand age. Fine root biomass at tree level correlated better than stand level root biomass with stand characteristics. The results showed that there exists a strong relationship between the fine root biomass and the above-ground biomass.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Financial support for this work by European COST Action E38 ‘Woody Root processes’ is gratefully acknowledged. The authors thank Dr. Ain Kull for help in designing the map of the location of stands and Dr. Ivan Janssens for providing data.
- Below-ground biomass
- Boreal forests
- Climatic variables
- Soil variables
- Temperate forests