European Journal of Forest Research

, Volume 137, Issue 3, pp 385–399 | Cite as

Quantitative relationships between fine roots and stand characteristics

  • Guang Zhou
  • Shengwang Meng
  • Jian Yu
  • Hua Zhou
  • Qijing LiuEmail author


Fine roots absorb nutrients and water for photosynthesizing leaves, which in return provide them with hydrocarbon products. Knowledge of the fine root biomass (FRB) at the individual tree level and its relationships with other components related to tree growth, especially leaves aboveground, is scarce. Therefore, we reviewed the FRB of major forest-forming species using a database of 518 forest stands compiled from the literature, including 21 tree species and 16 shrub species, in order to confirm the relationships between environmental or forest stand variables and FRB at the stand and tree levels, and we further determine the relationships between fine roots belowground and leaves aboveground. Correlations between FRB and site characteristics (latitude, elevation, age, density, and basal area) appeared to be species-specific. There were hardly any significant correlations between stand FRB and latitude, elevation, stand age and stand density. Tree FRB was better correlated with tree basal area than stand FRB with stand basal area. There was a significant linear relationship between tree FRB and tree basal area. In addition, individual FRB was significantly linearly related to leaf biomass for all analyzed species. When these species were grouped into coniferous and deciduous, or all species together, there were still significant linear relationships between tree FRB and tree basal area and leaf biomass. The ratios of FRB to leaf biomass varied between and among species and even among regions for the same species. For both Picea abies and Pinus sylvestris, the ratio of FRB to leaf biomass was negatively related to the ratio of annual actual evapotranspiration to annual potential evapotranspiration, which was an indicator of water availability.


Functional equilibrium Fine root biomass Foliage Basal area 



We would like to thank all colleagues who assisted with data collection. We are most grateful to the two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments on this manuscript. This research was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31670436).

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 105 kb)
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Supplementary material 2 (DOCX 19 kb)


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of ForestryBeijing Forestry UniversityBeijingPeople’s Republic of China

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