Globally, root production accounts for 33–67% of terrestrial net primary productivity and influences decomposition via root production and turnover, carbon (C) allocation to mycorrhizal fungi and root exudation. As recognized above ground, the timing of phenological events affects terrestrial C balance, yet there is no parallel understanding for below-ground phenology. In this paper we examine the phenology of root production and its relationship to temperature, soil moisture, and above-ground phenology. Synthesizing 87 observations of whole-plant phenol-ogy from 40 studies, we found that, on average, root growth occurs 25 AE 8 d after shoot growth but that the offset between the peak in root and shoot growth varies > 200 d across biomes (boreal, temperate, Mediterranean, and subtropical). Root and shoot growth are positively correlated with median monthly temperature and mean monthly precipitation in boreal, temperate, and subtropical biomes. However, a temperature hysteresis in these biomes leads to the hypothesis that internal controls over C allocation to roots are an equally, if not more, important driver of phenology. The specific mechanisms are as yet unclear but they are likely mediated by some combination of photoassimilate supply, hormonal signaling, and growth form.
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