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1 March 2009 A Technique for Estimating Riparian Root Production
Chad S. Boyd, Tony J. Svejcar
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Belowground plant biomass plays a critical role in the maintenance of riparian ecosystems and generally constitutes the majority of the total biomass on a site. Despite this importance, belowground dynamics of riparian plant species are not commonly investigated, in part because of difficulties of sampling in a belowground riparian environment. We investigated the field utility of a root-ingrowth sampling technique for measuring root production. We established four streamside sampling sites in southeastern Oregon, and randomly located four plots within each site. In each plot we established two 7.6-cm–diameter sand-filled ingrowth cores in September of 2004. In September of 2005 we harvested the cores with the use of a vacuum sampling technique in which a 5.1-cm–diameter camphored polyvinyl chloride casing was driven into the center of the root core and sand and root materials were suctioned out. Root-length density was determined by computer image analysis, and roots were dried and weighed to determine production by weight. Results indicate that root-length density averaged 7.2 (± 0.7) cm · cm−3 across sites and root-production index was 356.7 (± 20.6) g · m−2. Our index to root production by weight was consistent with previous estimates of annual root production reported in the literature. Our sampling technique proved to be a practical solution for root sampling in riparian environments, and helps overcome some of the difficulties in sequential coring of saturated soils. Use of any ingrowth core technique to index root production can potentially bias production estimates because of the artificial, root-free environment of the core. However, these biases should be consistent across sites, making ingrowth cores useful for determining differences between manipulative treatments.

Chad S. Boyd and Tony J. Svejcar "A Technique for Estimating Riparian Root Production," Rangeland Ecology and Management 62(2), 198-202, (1 March 2009).
Received: 5 August 2008; Accepted: 1 January 2009; Published: 1 March 2009

belowground production
root-ingrowth core
root-length density
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