Belowground plant biomass allocation in tundra ecosystems and its relationship with temperature

Wang Peng*, M.M.P.D. Heijmans, L. Mommer, J. van Ruijven, Trofim C. Maximov, F. Berendse

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


Climatewarming is known to increase the aboveground productivity of tundra ecosystems.
Recently, belowground biomass is receiving more attention, but the effects of climate warming on
belowground productivity remain unclear. Enhanced understanding of the belowground component
of the tundra is important in the context of climate warming, sincemost carbon is sequestered
belowground in these ecosystems. In this study we synthesized published tundra belowground
biomass data from36 field studies spanning amean annual temperature (MAT) gradient from
−20 °C to 0 °C across the tundra biome, and determined the relationships between different plant
biomass pools andMAT. Our results show that the plant community biomass–temperature
relationships are significantly different between above and belowground. Aboveground biomass
clearly increased withMAT, whereas total belowground biomass and fine root biomass did not show
a significant increase over the broadMATgradient. Our results suggest that biomass allocation of
tundra vegetation shifts towards aboveground in warmer conditions,which could impact on the
carbon cycling in tundra ecosystems through altered litter input and distribution in the soil, aswell
as possible changes in root turnover.
Original languageEnglish
Article number055003
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Belowground biomass
  • Biomass allocation
  • Climate change
  • Root biomass
  • Root:shoot ratio
  • Tundra vegetation


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