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    Author(s): Daniela Yaffar; Richard J. Norby
    Date: 2020
    Source: Biotropica
    Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
    Station: International Institute of Tropical Forestry
    PDF: Download Publication  (1.0 MB)


    Fine roots play an important role in plant nutrition, as well as in carbon, water, and nutrient cycling. Fine roots account for a third of terrestrial net primary production (NPP), and inclusion of their structure and function in global carbon models should improve predictions of ecosystem responses to climate change. However, studies focusing on underground plant components are much less frequent than those on aboveground structure. This is more marked in the tropics, where one-third of the planet's terrestrial NPP is produced. Some tropical forests have been more represented in the literature than others, as demonstrated in the collective studies in Puerto Rico. This Caribbean island's biodiversity, frequency of natural disturbances, ease of access to forests, and long-term plots have created an ideal place for the study of tropical ecological processes. This literature review emphasizes 50 years of root research and patterns revealed around Puerto Rico. The data in this review were compiled from scientific publications, conference reports, symposiums, and raw data shared by some researches. Emergent patterns include the shallow distribution of fine roots, the great variation in root biomass among different forest types, little variation in root phosphorus concentrations, the slow recovery of root biomass after Hurricane Hugo, and the fact that most data on roots come from the wet tropical Luquillo Experimental Forest, causing other habitat types to be underrepresented. This review also shows the gaps in knowledge about fine roots in the island's ecosystems, which should be used to promote and guide future studies. Abstract in Spanish is available with online material.

    Publication Notes

    • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.


    Yaffar, Daniela; Norby, Richard J. 2020. A historical and comparative review of 50 years of root data collection in Puerto Rico. Biotropica. 98(2985): 283-.


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    fine roots, hurricane, land-use history, luquillo experimental forest, rooting distribution, tropics.

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