Distinct patterns of below- and aboveground growth phenology and litter carbon inputs along a boreal site type gradient

Yiyang Ding, Jaana Leppälammi-Kujansuu, Maija Salemaa, Pauliina Schiestl-Aalto, Liisa Kulmala, Liisa Ukonmaanaho, Pekka Nöjd, Kari Minkkinen, Naoki Makita, Peter Zeleznik, Paivi Merila, Heljä-Sisko Helmisaari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Forest ecosystem productivity is strongly linked to site nutrient availability, which is influenced by litter inputs and their decomposition rates. Fine roots and mycelia are key contributors in belowground soil carbon (C) accumulation, but studies have seldom reported how belowground litter C input is related to site types in boreal forests. In this study, three mature and one young Pinus sylvestris forests along a site type gradient in southern Finland were chosen for measurements of fine root biomass, fine root longevity, below- and aboveground growth phenology and annual litter input from tree and understorey vegetation. Site types were distinguished by understorey vegetation composition, which indicated the site fertility. Fine root biomass per tree stand basal area decreased significantly from nutrient-poor to nutrient-rich sites, the nutrient-poor sites with longer fine root longevity resulted in an equal belowground litter input with the nutrient-rich site. Above- and belowground annual litter inputs were 131–236 and 70–91 g m−2 year−1, respectively. Aboveground litter increased with site fertility, resulting into belowground litter having a decreasing trend from 37% to 23% of total litter inputs with increasing site fertility. Ectomycorrhizal mycelia and understory production contributed 8–13% and 18–41% of belowground production, respectively. Contribution of understorey vegetation to the belowground litter C input was lower than that of trees at xeric and sub-xeric sites but equaled to that of trees at the mesic site. Our study showed distinct dimensions of below- and aboveground litter inputs influenced by site types. Moreover, we emphasize that the belowground C inputs from ectomycorrhizal mycelia and the understorey in addition to those of trees should always be considered in C balances and C reporting in boreal conifers.
Original languageEnglish
Article number119081
JournalForest Ecology and Management
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 4112 Forestry
  • Fine root turnover
  • Carbon cycle
  • Site type
  • Growth phenology
  • Carbon allocation
  • Ectomycorrhizal mycelia
  • Fine root longevity
  • Minirhizotron
  • Pinus sylvestris
  • Soil fertility

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