At the roots of carbon cyclesFine roots are a substantial but transitory carbon pool in many ecosystems and highly responsive to seasonal and environmental forcings. However they are also difficult to study, as roots are often highly spatially heterogeneous and direct sampling is very slow. Consequently, representation of roots in vegetation models is often highly simplistic.
To address this knowledge gap, MPI-BGC postdoc Richard Nair had successfully applied for a Marie Curie Individual Fellowship. His project MrPARTS (Minirhizotron: Phenology and Root Traits) will be fully funded by EU for 2 years, starting in June 2017.
The new project aims to investigate short-term root dynamics, both in terms of biomass and visually identifiable traits by developing remote-operating minirhizotron camera systems and improving computer vision processing of root images. The system will first be tested in a mesocosm system in Jena and then applied to the highly seasonal Las Majadas del Tietar field site in Spain. MrPARTS will thus complement the department’s ongoing MANIP fertilization experiment and investigate short-term periods of root growth and development, and their coordination with above-ground plant development and overall C budgets.