Root chemistry is being increasingly used as a marker of biologically relevant soil chemistry. To evaluate this marker, we determined the precision of measurement, the effect of organic soil horizon, and the effect of stand elevation on the chemistry of fine root tips of red spruce (Picea rubens Sarg.) Fine root tips were collected from the F and H horizons of the forest floor of nine locations. Six of the locations were selected as pairs that differed in elevation. The concentrations of Al, Ca, Mg, and Fe in fine root tip collections were determinined by direct current plasma emission spectroscopy. Element concentrations were not well correlated between collections made from the F and H layers associated with individual trees. The concentration of Ca was significantly higher and the concentrations of Al and Fe were significantly lower in fine root tips collected from the F than in tips collected from the H horizons. Fine root tips collected from the higher elevation member of paired locations yielded a higher Al:Ca ratio than did those collected from the lower elevation member. These results indicated thc need to stratify fine root collections by soil horizon within the forest floor.
Smith, K.T.; Shortle, W.C.; Ostrofsky, W.D. 1995. Aluminum and calcium in fine root tips of red spruce collected from the forest floor. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 25: 1237-1242.