Fine-root decomposition and N dynamics in coniferous forests of the Pacific Northwest, U.S.A. Public Deposited

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  • We examined the effects of species, initial substrate quality, and site differences (including temperature, precipitation, and soil N availability) on fine-root (<2 mm diameter) decomposition in litter bags and its N dynamics in Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis (Bong) Carrière), Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii (Mirb.) Franco), and ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa Dougl. ex P. & C. Laws.) forests in Oregon, U.S.A. Species significantly influenced fine-root mass loss during the first 2 years of decomposition. Over the same period, site differences had little impact on decomposition of fine roots. The percentage of initial mass remaining of decomposing fine roots fitted a single-exponential model. The decomposition rate constant (k) for all 15 species examined ranged from 0.172 year–1 for Engelmann spruce (Picea engelmanni Parry ex Engelm.) to 0.386 year–1 for Oregon ash (Fraxinus latifolia Benth.). Initial C quality indices (e.g., cellulose concentration, lignin concentration) of fine roots were correlated with fine-root decomposition rates. In contrast, initial N concentration and soil N availability were not correlated with fine-root decomposition rates. The rate of N released from decomposing roots was positively correlated with the initial N concentration of the fine roots. The data suggest that decomposing fine roots could release at least 20 kg N/ha annually in mature Douglasfir forests of the Pacific Northwest.
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  • Hua Chen, Mark E. Harmon, Jay Sexton, and Becky Fasth. 2002. Fine-root decomposition and N dynamics in coniferous forests of the Pacific Northwest, U.S.A. Can. J. For. Res. 32: 320–331.
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