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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Linking Root Traits to Shoot Traits and Life History in 25 Temperate Forest Species

Authors
item Comas, Louise
item Eissenstat, David - PENN STATE UNIV.

Submitted to: Ecology Society of America Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: May 20, 2002
Publication Date: August 4, 2002
Citation: COMAS, L.H., EISSENSTAT, D. LINKING ROOT TRAITS TO SHOOT TRAITS AND LIFE HISTORY IN 25 TEMPERATE FOREST SPECIES. 2002. ECOLOGY SOCIETY OF AMERICA ABSTRACTS. Abstract p. 102.

Technical Abstract: Despite their important role in plant carbon budgets and carbon cycling, there is little information available on fine root characteristics of woody species. Comparative approaches were used to examine the roots of 25 diverse species collected from mature forests. Nine root traits were examined that were related to root morphology, branching structure, chemical defenses, nutrient uptake and metabolic activity. Examination of root traits and life history characteristics indicated that root morphology (especially SRL) and architecture (tip density) were highly correlated with plant evolutionary history and types of mycorrhiza formed by the species. Evidence of associations between plant growth strategy and root structure, chemical defense and metabolic activity was found across the broad taxonomical range of species but evidence mainly came from correlations of root traits and leaf N. Although correlations between root traits and leaf N were significant (<i>P</i><0.05) and consistent among different groupings of species, these associations were not always very strong (<i>e.g.</i> SRL related to leaf N across all 25 species, <i>r</i>= 0.38). Few correlations were found between root traits and SLA or trunk growth rate. Morphological traits compared between fast- and slow-growing species across pairs of related species were usually consistent with previous work with seedlings of many of the same species; however, physiological traits compared between pairs of fast- and slow-growing species were not consistent with the seedling study. One possible explanation may be that root morphology is programmed into the genetic traits of species but root physiology is more dependent on whole plant physiology, which may be more similar in mature trees.

Last Modified: 10/24/2014
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