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Title: Proportion of fine roots, but not plant biomass allocation below ground, increases with elevation in arctic tundra

Abstract

Questions: Roots represent a considerable proportion of biomass, primary production and litter input in arctic tundra, and plant allocation of biomass to above- or below- ground tissue in response to climate change is a key factor in the future C balance of these ecosystems. According to optimality theory plants allocate C to the above- or below-ground structure that captures the most limiting resource. We used an elevational gradient to test this theory and as a space-for-time substitution to inform on tundra carbon allocation patterns under a shifting climate, by exploring if increasing elevation was positively related to the root:shoot ratio, as well as a larger plant allocation to adsorptive over storage roots. Location: Arctic tundra heath dominated by Empetrum hermaphroditum close to Abisko, Sweden. Methods: We measured root:shoot and fine:coarse root ratios of the plant communities along an elevational gradient by sampling above- and below-ground biomass, further separating root biomass into fine (<1 mm) and coarse roots. Results: Plant biomass was higher at the lower elevations, but the root:shoot ratio did not vary with elevation. Resource allocation to fine relative to coarse roots increased with elevation, resulting in a fine:coarse root ratio that more than doubled with in- creasing elevation.more » Conclusions: Contrary to previous works, the root:shoot ratio along this elevational gradient remained stable. However, communities along our study system were dominated by the same species at each elevation, which suggests that when changes in the root:shoot ratio occur with elevation these changes may be driven by differences in allocation patterns among species and thus turnover in plant community structure. Our results further reveal that the allocation of biomass to fine relative to coarse roots can differ between locations along an elevational gradient, even when overall above- vs below-ground biomass allocation does not. Given the functionally different roles of fine vs coarse roots this could have large implications for below-ground C cycling. Thus. our results highlight the importance of direct effects vs indirect effects (such as changes in plant community composition and nutrient availability) of climate change for future C allocation above and below ground.« less

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1];  [2];  [2];  [3];  [3];  [2];  [4];  [5]
  1. Umeå Univ., Abisko (Sweden); Greifswald Univ., Greifswald (Germany)
  2. Umeå Univ., Abisko (Sweden)
  3. Univ. of Copenhagen, Copenhagen (Denmark); Univ. of Vermont, Burlington, VT (United States)
  4. Umeå Univ., Abisko (Sweden); Univ. of Copenhagen, Copenhagen (Denmark)
  5. Western Carolina Univ., Cullowhee, NC (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
1501424
Grant/Contract Number:  
SC0010562
Resource Type:
Journal Article: Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Journal of Vegetation Science
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 29; Journal Issue: 2; Journal ID: ISSN 1100-9233
Publisher:
Wiley
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
59 BASIC BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES

Citation Formats

Blume-Werry, Gesche, Lindén, Elin, Andresen, Lisa, Classen, Aimée T., Sanders, Nathan J., von Oppen, Jonathan, Sundqvist, Maja K., and Collins, Beverly Shawna. Proportion of fine roots, but not plant biomass allocation below ground, increases with elevation in arctic tundra. United States: N. p., 2017. Web. doi:10.1111/jvs.12605.
Blume-Werry, Gesche, Lindén, Elin, Andresen, Lisa, Classen, Aimée T., Sanders, Nathan J., von Oppen, Jonathan, Sundqvist, Maja K., & Collins, Beverly Shawna. Proportion of fine roots, but not plant biomass allocation below ground, increases with elevation in arctic tundra. United States. doi:10.1111/jvs.12605.
Blume-Werry, Gesche, Lindén, Elin, Andresen, Lisa, Classen, Aimée T., Sanders, Nathan J., von Oppen, Jonathan, Sundqvist, Maja K., and Collins, Beverly Shawna. Thu . "Proportion of fine roots, but not plant biomass allocation below ground, increases with elevation in arctic tundra". United States. doi:10.1111/jvs.12605. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1501424.
@article{osti_1501424,
title = {Proportion of fine roots, but not plant biomass allocation below ground, increases with elevation in arctic tundra},
author = {Blume-Werry, Gesche and Lindén, Elin and Andresen, Lisa and Classen, Aimée T. and Sanders, Nathan J. and von Oppen, Jonathan and Sundqvist, Maja K. and Collins, Beverly Shawna},
abstractNote = {Questions: Roots represent a considerable proportion of biomass, primary production and litter input in arctic tundra, and plant allocation of biomass to above- or below- ground tissue in response to climate change is a key factor in the future C balance of these ecosystems. According to optimality theory plants allocate C to the above- or below-ground structure that captures the most limiting resource. We used an elevational gradient to test this theory and as a space-for-time substitution to inform on tundra carbon allocation patterns under a shifting climate, by exploring if increasing elevation was positively related to the root:shoot ratio, as well as a larger plant allocation to adsorptive over storage roots.Location: Arctic tundra heath dominated by Empetrum hermaphroditum close to Abisko, Sweden. Methods: We measured root:shoot and fine:coarse root ratios of the plant communities along an elevational gradient by sampling above- and below-ground biomass, further separating root biomass into fine (<1 mm) and coarse roots. Results: Plant biomass was higher at the lower elevations, but the root:shoot ratio did not vary with elevation. Resource allocation to fine relative to coarse roots increased with elevation, resulting in a fine:coarse root ratio that more than doubled with in- creasing elevation. Conclusions: Contrary to previous works, the root:shoot ratio along this elevational gradient remained stable. However, communities along our study system were dominated by the same species at each elevation, which suggests that when changes in the root:shoot ratio occur with elevation these changes may be driven by differences in allocation patterns among species and thus turnover in plant community structure. Our results further reveal that the allocation of biomass to fine relative to coarse roots can differ between locations along an elevational gradient, even when overall above- vs below-ground biomass allocation does not. Given the functionally different roles of fine vs coarse roots this could have large implications for below-ground C cycling. Thus. our results highlight the importance of direct effects vs indirect effects (such as changes in plant community composition and nutrient availability) of climate change for future C allocation above and below ground.},
doi = {10.1111/jvs.12605},
journal = {Journal of Vegetation Science},
issn = {1100-9233},
number = 2,
volume = 29,
place = {United States},
year = {2017},
month = {12}
}

Journal Article:
Free Publicly Available Full Text
Publisher's Version of Record

Citation Metrics:
Cited by: 4 works
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Figures / Tables:

Figure 1 Figure 1: Above-ground plant biomass (dark grey, upwards bars) and below-ground biomass (downward bars), further separated into coarse (light grey bars) and fine (white bars) root biomass, along the elevational gradient. Bars show mean ± SE, n = 8

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    Works referencing / citing this record:

    Annual ring growth of a widespread high arctic shrub reflects past fluctuations in community‐level plant biomass
    journal, August 2018

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      Figures/Tables have been extracted from DOE-funded journal article accepted manuscripts.