In forest ecosystems, fine roots have a considerable role in carbon cycling. To investigate the seasonal pattern of fine root demography, we observed the fine root production and decomposition processes using a minirhizotron system in a Betula-dominated forest with understory evergreen dwarf bamboo. The length density of fine roots decreased with increasing soil depth. The seasonal patterns of each fine root demographic parameter (length density of visible roots, rates of stand-total fine root production and decomposition) were almost the same at different soil depths. The peak seasons of the fine root demographic parameters were observed in the order: stand-total fine root production rate (late summer) > length density of the visible roots (early autumn) > stand-total fine root decomposition rate (autumn, and a second small peak in spring). The fine root production rate was high in the latter part of the plant growing season. Fine root production peaked in late summer and remained high until the end of the tree defoliation season. The higher stand-total fine root production rate in autumn suggests the effect of understory evergreen bamboo on the stand-total fine root demography. The stand-total fine root decomposition rate was high in late autumn. In the snow-cover period, the rates of both fine root production and decomposition were low. The fine root demographic parameters appeared to show seasonal patterns. The fine root production rate had a clearer seasonality than the fine root decomposition rate. The seasonal pattern of stand-total fine root production rate could be explained by both overstory and understory above-ground productivities.
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