Biomass is an important component of global carbon cycling and is vulnerable to climate change. Previous studies have mainly focused on the responses of aboveground biomass and phenology to warming, while studies of root architecture and of root biomass allocation between coarse and fine roots have been scarcely reported in grassland ecosystems. We conducted an open-top-chamber warming experiment to investigate the effect of potential warming on root biomass and root allocation in alpine steppe on the north Tibetan Plateau. The results showed that Stipa purpurea had significantly higher total root length, root surface area and tips than Carex moocroftii. However, there were no differences in total root volume, mean diameter and forks for the two species. Warming significantly increased total root biomass (27.60%), root biomass at 0–10 cm depth (27.84%) and coarse root biomass (diameter > 0.20 mm, 57.68%) in the growing season (August). However, warming had no significant influence on root biomass in the non-growing season (April). Root biomass showed clear seasonal variations: total root biomass, root biomass at 0–10 cm depth and coarse root biomass significantly increased in the growing season. The increase in total root biomass was due to the enhancement of root biomass at 0–10 cm depth, to which the increase of coarse root biomass made a great contribution. This research is of significance for understanding biomass allocation, carbon cycling and biological adaptability in alpine grassland ecosystems under future climate change.
Journal of Mountain Science – Springer Journals
Published: Jun 30, 2017
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