Fine-root decomposition is an important determinant of nutrient and carbon cycling in grasslands, but little is known about the factors controlling interspecific root decomposition. By studying 18 Mediterranean herbaceous species from different life histories and taxonomic groups, Birouste et al. demonstrate that the potential decomposition rate of fine roots is affected by root chemical composition but not by morphological traits. Patterns of root traits, including decomposition rate, mirror those of leaves, resulting in a similar clustering of species.
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