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Decomposition and nitrogen release from decomposing woody roots in coniferous forests of the Pacific Northwest: a chronosequence approach

Chen, H., Harmon, M.E., Griffiths, R.P.
Canadian journal of forest research = 2001 v.31 no.2 pp. 246-260
Picea sitchensis, Pseudotsuga menziesii, Pinus ponderosa, forests, degradation, roots, nitrogen, nutrient availability, chronosequences, stumps, Pinus contorta, Tsuga heterophylla, bark, wood, resins, decay fungi, carbon nitrogen ratio, species differences, Oregon
Decomposition of woody roots in Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis (Bong.) Carriere), Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii (Mirb.) Franco), and ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa P. Laws. Ex C. Laws.) dominated forests in Oregon, U.S.A. was studied using a chronosequence. Roots of five coniferous species were excavated from stumps with ages up to 46 years old. In order of increasing decomposition rate constant (k) the species were Douglas-fir < Sitka spruce < lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta Dougl. ex Loud.) < western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla (Raf.) Sarg) < ponderosa pine. Variation in the proportion of bark, wood, and resin cores was correlated to these differences. Root wood showed the highest k, root bark the second, and resin cores the lowest. The occurrence of resin cores in woody roots of Douglas-fir, Sitka spruce, and lodgepole pine greatly slowed the decomposition of these species. White rots occurred frequently in ponderosa pine and lodgepole pine, whereas brown rots mostly appeared in Douglas-fir and Sitka spruce. Species with white rot had a higher k than those with brown rot. Decomposing woody roots started to release N after 20-30% mass loss, a point when the dead root C/N ratio averaged 140.