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Advancing the use of minirhizotrons in wetlands

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Iversen, C. M.; Murphy, M. T.; Allen, M. F.; Childs, J.; Eissenstat, D. M.; Lilleskov, E.A.; Sarjala, T. M.; Sloan, V. L.; Sullivan, P. F.

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Plant and Soil


Background. Wetlands store a substantial amount of carbon (C) in deep soil organic matter deposits, and play an important role in global fluxes of carbon dioxide and methane. Fine roots (i.e., ephemeral roots that are active in water and nutrient uptake) are recognized as important components of biogeochemical cycles in nutrient-limited wetland ecosystems. However, quantification of fine-root dynamics in wetlands has generally been limited to destructive approaches, possibly because of methodological difficulties associated with the unique environmental, soil, and plant community characteristics of these systems. Non-destructive minirhizotron technology has rarely been used in wetland ecosystems. Scope. Our goal was to develop a consensus on, and a methodological framework for, the appropriate installation and use of minirhizotron technology in wetland ecosystems. Here, we discuss a number of potential solutions for the challenges associated with the deployment of minirhizotron technology in wetlands, including minirhizotron installation and anchorage, capture and analysis of minirhizotron images, and upscaling of minirhizotron data for analysis of biogeochemical pools and parameterization of land surface models. Conclusions. The appropriate use of minirhizotron technology to examine relatively understudied fineroot dynamics in wetlands will advance our knowledge of ecosystem C and nutrient cycling in these globally important ecosystems.


Fine roots; Minirhizotron; Wetlands; Peatlands; Methodology


Iversen, C.M.; Murphy, M.T.; Allen, M.F.; Childs, J.; Eissenstat, D.M.; Lilleskov, E.A.; Sarjala, T.M.; Sloan, V.L.; Sullivan, P.F. 2012. Advancing the use of minirhizotrons in wetlands. Plant and Soil. 352(1-2): 23-39.

Last updated on: March 17, 2017