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    Root decomposition and nutrient release are typically estimated from dried root tissues; however, it is unlikely that roots dehydrate prior to decomposing. Soil fertility and root diameter may also affect the rate of decomposition. This study monitored mass loss and nutrient concentrations of dried and fresh roots of two size classes (<2 and 2-5 mm) over a 12-month period in fertilized and control plots in a 13-year-old loblolly pine (Pinus taeda L.) plantation. Nutrient content was calculated and used to assess the effects of fertilization, root size, and initial condition (hydration) on nutrient release rates. Roots that grew and decomposed in fertilized plots had higher concentrations and greater total release of N, P, K, and Mg than roots in control plots, but C concentrations and mass loss rate were not significantly different between roots in fertilized plots and those in control plots. Very fine roots (<2 mm) had higher concentrations of N, P, and Ca and faster release rates for C, N, and K than fine roots (2-5 mm), resulting in greater total release of C and N. Roots dried prior to decomposition decayed and released C, K, Ca, and Mg at a faster rate than fine roots. Results indicate that using dried root tissues will overestimate fine root decomposition and nutrient cycling rates.

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    Ludovici, Kim H.; Kress, Lance W. 2006. Decomposition and nutrient release from fresh and dried pine roots under two fertilizer regimes. Can. J. for. Res., Vol. 36: 105-111

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