skip to main content


Title: A global Fine-Root Ecology Database to address below-ground challenges in plant ecology

Variation and tradeoffs within and among plant traits are increasingly being harnessed by empiricists and modelers to understand and predict ecosystem processes under changing environmental conditions. And while fine roots play an important role in ecosystem functioning, fine-root traits are underrepresented in global trait databases. This has hindered efforts to analyze fine-root trait variation and link it with plant function and environmental conditions at a global scale. This Viewpoint addresses the need for a centralized fine-root trait database, and introduces the Fine-Root Ecology Database (FRED, which so far includes > 70 000 observations encompassing a broad range of root traits and also includes associated environmental data. FRED represents a critical step toward improving our understanding of below-ground plant ecology. For example, FRED facilitates the quantification of variation in fine-root traits across root orders, species, biomes, and environmental gradients while also providing a platform for assessments of covariation among root, leaf, and wood traits, the role of fine roots in ecosystem functioning, and the representation of fine roots in terrestrial biosphere models. There has been a continued input of observations into FRED to fill gaps in trait coverage will improve our understanding of changes in fine-root traits across space andmore » time.« less
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [1] ;  [3] ;  [4] ;  [5] ;  [6] ;  [7] ;  [8] ;  [9] ;  [8] ;  [6]
  1. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States). Climate Change Science Inst. and Environmental Sciences Division
  2. Univ. of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN (United States). Dept. of Plant and Microbial Biology
  3. Kent State Univ., Kent, OH (United States). Dept. of Biological Sciences
  4. Univ. of Montpellier and Paul Valary Univ. (France). Center for Functional and Evolutionary Ecology (CEFE)
  5. Max Planck Society, Jena (Germany). Max Planck Inst. for Biogeochemistry; German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), Leipzig (Germany)
  6. Univ. of Montpellier and Paul Valéry Univ. (France). Center for Functional and Evolutionary Ecology (CEFE)
  7. U.S. Dept. of Energy, Washington, DC (United States). Office of Biological and Environmental Research
  8. Leiden Univ. (Netherlands). Inst. of Environmental Sciences
  9. Kent State Univ., Kent, OH (United States). Dept. of Biological Sciences; Florida Intl Univ., Miami, FL (United States). International Center of Tropical Botany
Publication Date:
Grant/Contract Number:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
New Phytologist
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 215; Journal Issue: 1; Journal ID: ISSN 0028-646X
Research Org:
Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23)
Country of Publication:
United States
96 KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT AND PRESERVATION; 59 BASIC BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES; fine roots; functional traits; database; terrestrial biosphere models; FRED; Rhizopolis; mycorrhiza
OSTI Identifier: