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Tingey, D.T., D.L. Phillips, and M.G. Johnson. 2003. Optimizing minirhizotron sample frequency for an evergreen and deciduous tree species. New Phytologist 157:155-161. WED-02-032

When using minirhizotrons to study fine dynamics in natural ecosystems, it is important to determine how sample collection frequency influences estimates of fine root production and mortality. Minirhizotron images were collected twice per week from mature Pseudotsuga menziesii and Tilia cordata trees and analyzed to estimate fine root production and mortality These data were used to create data sets reflecting sample frequencies of 1,2,4 or 8 wk. When the sampling interval is long, fine roots can appear and disappear between samplings, leading to underestimates of production and mortality. For example, with an 8-wk sample frequency, 24 and 35% of the fine root production in P menziesii and T cordata, respectively, is not measured. Fine root mortality displays the same sensitivity to sample frequency. Our experimental observations supported the previously published simulation analysis, which provides an estimate of the proportion of fine roots missed at different sample frequencies and is a tool that can be used to select a sample frequency to balance production and mortality accuracy with sampling and analytical effort.

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