Much of plant biomass is in roots but we know much less about root properties that affect decomposition rates than we do about above-ground tissues. Aulen and Shipley measure decomposition rates of 17 species of trees and herbs using intact soil cores in the field and relate the differences to root chemical and morphological properties. They find that initial root traits account for 75 % of variation in interspecific decomposition rates, and may thus provide a relatively simple way of assessing root turnover.
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