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Soil Science Society of America Journal Abstract -

Spatial and Temporal Fine-Root Distribution in Three Louisiana Forest Soils


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 55 No. 6, p. 1752-1757
    Received: Feb 20, 1990

    * Corresponding author(s):
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  1. K. W. Farrish 
  1. School of Forestry, Louisiana Tech Univ., Ruston, LA 71272



The distribution of fine plant roots (≤3-mm diam.) in three northern Louisiana forest soils was investigated. Two upland mixed pine-hardwood sites and one bottomland hardwood site were sampled periodically for a year. Fine-root biomass and surface area were determined on root samples extracted using wet sieving of soil corings. Both fine-root biomass and surface area decreased abruptly with increasing depth on all sites, with 60 to 64% of the biomass and 63 to 70% of the fine-root surface area occurring in the top 20 cm of soil. Prolonged soil wetness or dryness during the growing season caused reductions in fine-root-biomass concentrations. A contradictory increase in fine-root surface area occurred, however, during prolonged soil saturation in the bottomland site, suggesting a possible change in fine-root morphology during inundation. Total fine-root biomass was similar on the three sites, averaging 8.4 and 10.5 Mg ha−1 on the two upland sites, and 9.9 Mg ha−1 on the bottomland site. Total fine-root surface area was much higher on the bottomland site, however, averaging 1.48 × 105 m2 ha−1 vs. 9.5 × 104 and 7.0 × 104 m2 ha−1 on the upland sites. These data indicate that fine-root concentrations in these forest soils decrease rapidly in response to unfavorable soil environmental conditions such as prolonged saturation or drying. These data also indicate that maximum root concentrations generally occur in the spring and early summer, with minimums during late summer, fall, and winter.

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