The allometric equations developed by Whittaker et al. (1974. Ecol. Monogr. 44: 233–252), at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest have been used to estimate biomass and productivity in northern hardwood forest systems for over three decades. Few other species-specific allometric estimates of belowground biomass are available because of the difficulty in collecting the data, and such equations are rarely validated. Using previously unpublished data from Whittaker’s sampling effort, we extended the equations to predict the root crown and lateral root components for the three dominant species of the northern hardwood forest: American beech (Fagus grandifolia Ehrh.), yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis Britt), and sugar maple (Acer saccharum Marsh.). We also refined the allometric models by eliminating the use of very small trees for which the original data were unreliable. We validated these new models of the relationship of tree diameter to the mass of root crowns and lateral roots using root mass data collected from 12 northern hardwood stands of varying age in central New Hampshire. These models provide accurate estimates of lateral roots (diameter) in northern hardwood stands >20 years old (mean error 24%–32%). For the younger stands that we studied, allometric equations substantially underestimated observed root biomass (mean error >60%), presumably due to remnant mature root systems from harvested trees supporting young root-sprouted trees.


Earth Systems Research Center

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Canadian Journal of Forest Research


NRC Research Press

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