Patterns in root trait variation among 25 co-existing North American forest species

L. H. Comas, David Eissenstat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

137 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Ephemeral roots have essential roles in plant and ecosystem functioning. In forests, roots account for a major component of carbon cycling, yet few studies have examined ranges of root trait variation and how different species vary in root form and function in these communities. • Root branching intensity, specific root length (SRL; root length per unit dry mass), root diameter, tissue density, phenolic concentration and nitrogen concentration were determined for the finest two root orders of 25 co-existing North American woody species sampled from mature plants in a single forest community. Trait correlations and multivariate patterns were examined to evaluate the most important trait differences among species. • Branching intensity, SRL, and phenolic concentration varied most widely among species (coefficient of variation (CV) = 0.42, 0.57 and 0.58, respectively). Species predominately forming ectomycorrhiza (EM) had a higher branching intensity than those forming arbuscular mycorrhiza (AM) with mycorrhizal types correctly predicted in c. 70% of individual observations by branching intensity alone. There was notably no correlation between SRL and nitrogen. Variation in SRL among species mapped partially along phylogenetic lines (consistency index (CI) = 0.44), with remaining variation attributable to differences in species' ecological specialization. • Variation found in root traits suggests different nutrient acquisition strategies within this community, which could have potential species-level effects on carbon and mineral nutrient cycling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)919-928
Number of pages10
JournalNew Phytologist
Volume182
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2009

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Mycorrhizae
branching
Nitrogen
Carbon
interspecific variation
Minerals
Ecosystem
Food
ectomycorrhizae
carbon
forest communities
nitrogen
mature plants
mycorrhizae
biogeochemical cycles
minerals
Forests
ecosystems
phylogeny
nutrients

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science

Cite this

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abstract = "Ephemeral roots have essential roles in plant and ecosystem functioning. In forests, roots account for a major component of carbon cycling, yet few studies have examined ranges of root trait variation and how different species vary in root form and function in these communities. • Root branching intensity, specific root length (SRL; root length per unit dry mass), root diameter, tissue density, phenolic concentration and nitrogen concentration were determined for the finest two root orders of 25 co-existing North American woody species sampled from mature plants in a single forest community. Trait correlations and multivariate patterns were examined to evaluate the most important trait differences among species. • Branching intensity, SRL, and phenolic concentration varied most widely among species (coefficient of variation (CV) = 0.42, 0.57 and 0.58, respectively). Species predominately forming ectomycorrhiza (EM) had a higher branching intensity than those forming arbuscular mycorrhiza (AM) with mycorrhizal types correctly predicted in c. 70{\%} of individual observations by branching intensity alone. There was notably no correlation between SRL and nitrogen. Variation in SRL among species mapped partially along phylogenetic lines (consistency index (CI) = 0.44), with remaining variation attributable to differences in species' ecological specialization. • Variation found in root traits suggests different nutrient acquisition strategies within this community, which could have potential species-level effects on carbon and mineral nutrient cycling.",
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Patterns in root trait variation among 25 co-existing North American forest species. / Comas, L. H.; Eissenstat, David.

In: New Phytologist, Vol. 182, No. 4, 01.06.2009, p. 919-928.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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