We examined the initial response of the quantity and distribution of fine roots to the creation of an experimental canopy gap with a diameter of 50 m in a mature managed Norway spruce forest. Under the canopy, the fine root length densities of trees, shrubs, and grasses and herbs were 3207, 707 and 2738 m m(-2), respectively. The fine root biomass of trees, shrubs, and grasses and herbs were 182, 47 and 52 g m(-2), respectively. Two growing seasons after gap creation hardly any fine tree roots were found in the middle part of the gap. The living tree roots in the gap edge zone were mainly located within a 5-m distance from the standing edge trees. The indices developed here to show the influence of trees on fine root lenght density clearly revealed the effect of the vicinity of living trees on fine root lenght density. The root densities of grasses, herbs and dwarf shrubs did not show a clear response to gap creation despite the increase of their foliage. Our results suggest that in boreal spruce forests a gap disturbance creates a distinct tree root gap and that the gap edge trees do not extend their root systems rapidly into the formed root gap.
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