Fine root turnover
Lukac, M. (2011) Fine root turnover. In: Mancuso, S. (ed.) Measuring Roots: An Updated Approach. Springer, Heidelberg, Dordrecht, London, New York, pp. 363-374. ISBN 9783642220661
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Fine roots constitute an interface between plants and soils and thus play a crucial part in forest carbon, nutrient and water cycles. Their continuous growth and dieback, often termed turnover of fine roots, may constitute a major carbon input to soils and significantly contribute to belowground carbon cycle. For this reason, it is of importance to accurately estimate not only the standing biomass of fine roots, but also its rate of turnover. To date, no direct and reliable method of measuring fine root turnover exists. The main reason for this is that the two component processes of root turnover, namely growth and dieback of fine roots, nearly always happen in the same place and at the same time. Further, the estimation of fine root turnover is complicated by the inaccessibility of tree root systems, its labour intensiveness and is often compounded by artefacts created by soil disturbance. Despite the fact that the elucidation of the patterns and controls of forest fine root turnover is of utmost importance for the development of realistic carbon cycle models, our knowledge of the contribution of fine root turnover to carbon and nutrient cycles in forests remains uncertain. This chapter will detail all major methods currently used for estimating fine root turnover and highlight their advantages, as well as drawbacks.