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Article
Belowground Carbon Allocation in Forest Ecosystems: Global Trends
Ecology (1989)
  • James W. Raich, The Ecosystems Center, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, Mass
  • Knute J. Nadelhoffer, The Ecosystems Center, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, Mass
Abstract
Carbon allocation to roots in forest ecosystems is estimated from published
data on soil respiration and litterfall. On a global scale, rates of in situ soil respiration and
aboveground litter production are highly and positively correlated, suggesting that above-
and belowground production are controlled by the same factors. This relationship also
allows us to predict rates of total soil respiration and total carbon allocation to roots in
forest ecosystems from litterfall measurements. Over a gradient of litterfall carbon ranging
from 70 to 500 g m-2 yr-1, total belowground carbon allocation increases from 260 to
1100 g m-2 yr-1. The ratio of belowground carbon allocation to litterfall decreases from
3.8 to 2.5 as litterfall carbon increases from 70 to 200 g.m-2 yr-1, but changes little (2.5
to 2.2) as litterfall carbon increases from 200 to 500 g.m-2 yr-1. Use of this relationship
permits the construction of simple carbon budgets that can be used to place upper limits
on estimates of fine root production in forest ecosystems. Determining live-root respiration
rates in forest ecosystems will further constrain the range of possible root production rates.
Keywords
  • allocation,
  • carbon,
  • forests,
  • litterfall,
  • root production,
  • soil respiration
Publication Date
1989
DOI
10.2307/1938194
Publisher Statement
Published as Raich, J. W., and K. J. Nadelhoffer. "Belowground carbon allocation in forest ecosystems: global trends." Ecology 70, no. 5 (1989): 1346-1354.
Copyright 1989 by the Ecological Society of America.
Citation Information
James W. Raich and Knute J. Nadelhoffer. "Belowground Carbon Allocation in Forest Ecosystems: Global Trends" Ecology Vol. 70 Iss. 5 (1989) p. 1346 - 1354
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/jim_raich/17/