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A global map of root biomass across the world's forests

By Yuanyuan Huang, Phillipe Ciais, Maurizio Santoro, David Makowski, Jerome Chave, Dmitry Schepaschenko, Rose Abramoff, Daniel S. Goll, Hui Yang, Ye Chen, Wei Wei, Shilong Piao

Posted 15 Jan 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.01.14.906883

Root plays a key role in plant growth and functioning. Here we combine 10307 field measurements of forest root biomass worldwide with global observations of forest structure, climatic conditions, topography, land management and soil characteristics to derive a spatially-explicit global high-resolution (~ 1km) root biomass dataset, including fine and coarse roots. In total, 142 ± 32 Pg of live dry matter biomass is stored below-ground, that is a global average root:shoot biomass ratio of 0.25 ± 0.10. Our estimations of total root biomass in tropical, temperate and boreal forests are 44-226% smaller than earlier studies1-3. The smaller estimation is attributable to the updated forest area, spatially explicit above-ground biomass density used to predict the patterns of root biomass, new root measurements and upscaling methodology. We show specifically that the root shoot allometry is one underlying driver that leads to methodological overestimation of root biomass in previous estimations.

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