Plant and Soil

, Volume 368, Issue 1–2, pp 201–214 | Cite as

Effect of aboveground intervention on fine root mass, production, and turnover rate in a Chinese cork oak (Quercus variabilis Blume) forest

  • Chuang Ma
  • Wenhui Zhang
  • Min Wu
  • Yaoqin Xue
  • Liwei Ma
  • Jianyun Zhou
Regular Article



Fine root is an important part of the forest carbon cycle. The growth of fine roots is usually affected by forest intervention. This study aims to investigate the fine root mass, production, and turnover in the disturbed forest.


The seasonal and vertical distributions of fine root (diameter ≤2 mm) were measured in a Chinese cork oak (Quercus variabilis Blume) forest. The biomass and necromass of roots with diameters ≤1 mm and 1-2 mm in 0-40 cm soil profiles were sampled by using a sequential soil coring method in the stands after clear cutting for 3 years, with the stands of the remaining intact trees as the control.


The fine root biomass (FRB) and fine root necromass (FRN) varied during the growing season and reached their peak in August. Lower FRB and higher FRN were found in the clear cutting stands. The ratio between FRN and FRB increased after forest clear cutting compared with the control and was the highest in June. The root mass with diameter ≤1 mm was affected proportionately more than that of diameter 1-2 mm root. Clear cutting reduced FRB and increased FRN of roots both ≤1 mm and 1-2 mm in diameter along the soil depths. Compared with the control, the annual fine root production and the average turnover rate decreased by 30.7 % and 20.7 %, respectively, after clear cutting for 3 years. The decline of canopy cover contributed to the dramatic fluctuation of soil temperature and moisture from April to October. With redundancy discriminate analysis (RDA) analysis, the first axis was explained by soil temperature (positive) and moisture (negative) in the control stands. Aboveground stand structure, including canopy cover, sprout height, and basal area, influenced FRB and FRN primarily after forest clear cutting.


This study suggested that the reduction of fine root biomass, production, and turnover rate can be attributed to the complex changes that occur after forest intervention, including canopy damage, increased soil temperature, and degressive soil moisture.


Above structure Fine root biomass Turnover rate Soil temperature RDA analysis 



The authors thank Bao Changhu, Wang Chenglei and Wang Rui for assistance in the field and laboratory. This study was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 30872018) and Forestry Industry Research Special Funds for Public Welfare Projects of China (201004011).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chuang Ma
    • 1
  • Wenhui Zhang
    • 1
  • Min Wu
    • 1
  • Yaoqin Xue
    • 2
  • Liwei Ma
    • 1
  • Jianyun Zhou
    • 1
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Environment and Ecology of Education Ministry in West ChinaNorthwest A&F UniversityShaanxiChina
  2. 2.College of life sciencesNorthwest A&F UniversityShaanxiChina

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