High belowground biomass allocation in an upland black spruce (Picea mariana) stand in interior Alaska
The root system of forest trees account for a significant proportion of the total forest biomass. However, data is particularly limited for forests in permafrost regions. In this study, therefore, we estimated the above- and belowground biomass of a black spruce (Picea mariana) stand underlain with permafrost in interior Alaska. Allometric equations were established using 4-6 sample trees to estimate the biomass of the aboveground parts and the coarse roots (roots >5 mm in diameter) of P. mariana trees. The aboveground biomass of understory plants and the fine-root biomass were estimated by destructive sampling. The aboveground and coarse-root biomasses of the P. mariana trees were estimated to be 3.97 and 2.31 kg m-2, respectively. The aboveground biomass of understory vascular plants such as Ledum groenlandicum and the biomass of forest floor mosses and lichens were 0.10 and 0.62 kg m-2, respectively. The biomass of fine roots <5 mm in diameter was 1.27 kg m-2. Thus, the above- and belowground biomasses of vascular plants in the P. mariana stand were estimated to be 4.07 and 3.58 kg m-2, respectively, indicating that belowground biomass accounted for 47% of the total biomass of vascular plants. Fine-root biomass was 36% of the total root biomass, of which 90% was accumulated in the surface organic layer. Thus, this P. mariana stand can be characterized as having extremely high belowground biomass allocation, which would make it possible to grow on permafrost with limited soil resource availability.