Aims: Root phenology patterns in tropical regions are poorly understood because limited data are available. Using the root scanner method, the aims of this study were to clarify 1) the temporal phenology of root production and decomposition, 2) the spatial variability of the root phenology, and 3) the contribution of different root diameter classes to root production and decomposition. Methods: Image acquisition was conducted monthly from April 2014 to May 2015 at five sites in a Bornean tropical rainforest. The projected area and length of root production and decomposition were derived manually from images using image-processing software and were grouped into 0.5-mm-diameter intervals. Results: The spatial distribution of root production and decomposition differed among the sites. Monthly projected root length indicated that the number and timing of peak root production and decomposition differed with each site. A substantial proportion of root production and decomposition was dominated by very fine roots (<0.5 mm diameter). Conclusions: The scanner method was useful to monitor the root phenology at the root system scale though the scanner images cover only a portion of the root systems of mature trees. Different patterns of root phenology among the sites might be associated with the high diversity and the indistinct seasonality of the Bornean tropical rainforest.
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