Clarifying the dynamics of fine roots is critical to understanding carbon and nutrient cycling in forest ecosystems. An optical scanner can potentially be used in studying fine-root dynamics in forest ecosystems. The present study examined image analysis procedures suitable for an optical scanner having a large (210 mm × 297 mm) root-viewing window. We proposed a protocol for analyzing whole soil images obtained by an optical scanner that cover depths of 0–210 mm. We tested our protocol using six observers with different experience in studying roots. The observers obtained data from the manual digitization of sequential soil images recorded for a Bornean tropical forest according to the protocol. Additionally, the study examined the potential tradeoff between the soil image size and accuracy of estimates of fine-root dynamics in a simple exercise. The six observers learned the protocol and obtained similar temporal patterns of fine-root growth and biomass with error of 10–20% regardless of their experience. However, there were large errors in decomposition owing to the low visibility of decomposed fine roots. The simple exercise revealed that a smaller root-viewing window (smaller than 60% of the original window) produces patterns of fine-root dynamics that are different from those for the original window size. The study showed the high applicability of our image analysis approach for whole soil images taken by optical scanners in estimating the fine-root dynamics of forest ecosystems.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Plant Science