Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Forest Ecology and Management (MS)

Administrative Home Department

College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science

Advisor 1

Molly A. Cavaleri

Advisor 2

Andrew J. Burton

Committee Member 1

Carsten Külheim


Economic theory is often applied to plant strategies, arguing that trade-offs exist between maximizing quick returns on investment within short lifespans or producing longer-lived tissues with slower returns. While these trade-offs are well-studied aboveground, their influence on belowground traits, including root respiration, remains unclear. Resource heterogeneity and symbioses with mycorrhizal fungi may complicate root trade-off axes beyond those predicted by economics theory alone. Investigating fine root trade-offs in Quercus rubra populations along a latitudinal gradient in the Midwest, USA, we identified two distinct axes of variation in root traits: one related to a potential “fungal symbiosis” trade-off and another representing a traditional economics trade-off. Root respiration aligned with the rate of return on investment axis, indicating that this carbon flux from terrestrial carbon sinks is influenced by economics strategies. Consequently, strategy shifts across the latitudinal gradient may alter these forests’ potential to maintain carbon sink strength as the climate changes.

Available for download on Tuesday, July 30, 2024