Allometry of fine roots in forest ecosystems

Guangshui Chen (Corresponding Author), Sarah E Hobbie, Peter B Reich, Yusheng Yang (Corresponding Author), David Robinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)
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Theoretical predictions regarding fine root production are needed in many ecosystem models but are lacking. Here, we expand the classic pipe model to fine roots and predict isometric scaling relationships between leaf and fine root biomass and among all major biomass production components of individual trees. We also predict that fine root production scales more slowly against increases in leaf production across global forest ecosystems at the stand level. Using meta-analysis, we show fine root biomass scales isometrically against leaf biomass both at the individual tree and stand level. However, despite isometric scaling between stem and coarse root production, fine root production scales
against leaf production with a slope of about 0.8 at the stand level, which probably results from more rapid increase of turnover rate in leaves than in fine roots. These analyses help to improve our understandings of allometric theory and controls of belowground C processes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)322-331
Number of pages10
JournalEcology Letters
Issue number2
Early online date28 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019


  • allometric scaling
  • carbon allocation
  • carbon cycle
  • fine roots
  • forest ecosystems
  • net primary production
  • pipe model
  • Allometric scaling


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