Date of this Version
Forests 2018, 9, 456
The roots linking the above-ground organs and soil are key components for estimating net primary productivity and carbon sequestration of forests. The patterns and drivers of root biomass in forest have not been examined well at the regional scale, especially for the widely distributed forest ecosystems in southwestern China. We attempted to determine the spatial patterns of root biomass (RB, Mg/ha), annual increment root biomass (AIRB, Mg/ha/year), ratio of root and above-ground (RRA), and the relative contributions of abiotic and biotic factors that drive the variation of root biomass. Forest biomass and multiple factors (climate, soil, forest types, and stand characteristics) of 318 plots in this region (790,000 km2) were analyzed in this research. The AB (the mean values for forest aboveground biomass per ha, Mg/ha), RB, AIRB, and RRA were 126 Mg/ha, 28 Mg/ha, 0.69 Mg/ha and 0.22, respectively. AB, RB, AIRB, and RRA varied across all the plots and forest types. Both RB and AIRB showed significant spatial patterns of distribution, while RRA did not show any spatial patterns of distribution. Up to 28.4% of variation in total of RB, AIRB, and RRA can be attributed to the climate, soil, and stand characteristics. The explained or contribution rates of climate, soil, and stand characteristics for variation of whole forest root biomass were 6.7%, 16.9%, and 10.9%, respectively. Path analysis in structural equation model (SEM) indicated the direct influence of stand age on RB. AIRB was greater than that of the other factors. Climate, soil and stand characteristics in different forest types could explain 9.7%–96.1%, 15.4%–96.4%, and 36.7%–99.4% of variations in RB, AIRB, and RRA, respectively, which suggests that the multiple factors may be important in explaining the variations in forest root biomass. The results of the analysis of root biomass per ha, annual increment of root biomass per ha, and ratio of root and above-ground in the seven forest types categorized by climate, soil, and stand characteristics may be used for accurately determining C sequestration by the forest root and estimating forest biomass in this region.