J Plant Ecol ›› 2018, Vol. 11 ›› Issue (4): 595-603.doi: 10.1093/jpe/rtx032

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Changes in fine root biomass of Picea abies forests: predicting the potential impacts of climate change

Z. Y. Yuan1,2,*, X. R. Shi1,2, F. Jiao1,2and F. P. Han1,2   

  1. 1 State Key Laboratory of Soil Erosion and Dryland Farming on the Loess Plateau, Institute of Soil and Water Conservation, Northwest A&F University, Yangling, Shaanxi 712100, China; 2 Institute of Soil and Water Conservation, Chinese Academy of Science and Ministry of Water Resource, Yangling, Shaanxi 712100, China
  • Received:2017-02-26 Accepted:2017-05-02 Online:2017-05-08 Published:2018-05-23
  • Contact: yuan, zy E-mail:zyyuan@ms.iswc.ac.cn

Abstract: Aims The impact of global warming on belowground processes, especially on fine root production, is poorly understood in comparison with its aboveground counterpart.
Methods Here, we compiled 227 measurements to assess the influence of temperature and precipitation on fine root biomass of Norway spruce (Picea abies [L.] Karst) forest ecosystems in the Eurasia boreal region.
Important findings We found that fine root biomass decreased significantly with latitudes. There was a biomass increase of 0.63 Mg ha-1 and 0.32 Mg ha-1 for fine roots <2 and <1 mm in diameter, respectively, with 1°C increase of mean annual temperature. There was an increase of 0.5 and 0.1 Mg ha-1 per 100 mm year-1 precipitation for the two size classes of fine roots. If the adaption of root production can match the pace of global warming and water is not a limiting factor for plant growth, fine root biomass would be expected to increase by 40–140% in response to the predicted increase in temperature (3–10°C) over the next century. Our analyses highlighted the strongly positive influences of temperature and precipitation on belowground function, suggesting that predicted future climate change could substantially enhance belowground biomass in the boreal region where the greatest warming is anticipated. This potential increase of belowground biomass, coupled with aboveground biomass, may provide a better understanding of climate–ecosystem feedbacks.

Key words: boreal forest, carbon, climate change, fine roots, latitudinal gradient, mean annual temperature and precipitation, Norway spruce, Picea abies, production and biomass

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