Tips for Using FRED

The trait observations included in FRED have been collected from many different types of roots. You may want to consider selecting only a subset of these root measurements for your analysis (for example, living roots only, absorptive fine roots only, or first-order roots only).

In addition to important root traits such as diameter (or diameter class) and color, ancillary root sampling metadata can facilitate accurate comparisons of root traits within- and among species. These options are now available to filter the data within the new FRED 3.0 User Interface:

Species-specific traits, or traits of plants growing in mixed communities?

  • Single or multiple species: This filter corresponds to Column ID F00027 (Notes_Single or multiple species) in the data dictionary. Selecting “Single species” returns data that were collected for individual species, whereas “multiple species” returns data that were collected for more than one species at a time; for instance, where researchers sampled a mixed plant community and did not identify and sort the roots before measuring them. Selecting 'single species' does not mean that all rows of data returned will describe the same species; it only means that there are no mixed-species data in any of the rows.

What kind of root? 

  • Belowground part: BS (belowground stems), CR (coarse roots; roots >2 mm in diameter), FR (fine roots; roots 2 mm or below in diameter), R (rhizomes), TB (all underground parts, which may or may not include any number of the aforementioned types), TR (all roots, which may include coarse roots, fine roots, or both), unspecified (researchers did not specify which belowground parts they collected), or unspecified roots (researchers collected roots but did not specify which roots they collected). Categories with a plus sign only apply to rows with mixed types; for instance, selecting “CR + FR” will return all rows that describe coarse and fine roots, but will not return rows that describe only CR or only FR, nor will it return rows that describe CR and FR mixed with other types [Column ID F00055].
  • Root order: Associated with a specific root order (generally 1-7) [ Column ID F00056]. This is based on the centripetal (i.e. morphometric) root ordering scheme: roots of order 1 are the roots on the distal tip of the root system with no roots branching from them; order 2 roots are roots at least one first-order root branching from them; order 3 roots are roots with second-order roots branching from them, and so on.
  • Root functional class: Associated with a specific root functional class (e.g., absorptive or transport fine roots, or a mixture of both) [Column IDs F00060]. Absorptive roots are typically classified as fine roots of orders 1 through 3, and perform the functions associated with resource acquisition, while transport roots are typically classified as fine roots of orders 4 or higher, and perform the functions associated with resource transport (McCormack et al. 2015; New Phytologist).
  • Root vitality: Living or dead (or a mixture of both) [Column ID F00064]. Choosing ‘both’ returns all rows of data that describe both living and dead roots, but does not return rows that describe only living roots or only dead roots.

After download from the FRED User Interface, there are other ways to subset observations based on root characteristics, including:  

  • Root order range: Select within a range of root orders [Column IDs F00057 and F00058].
  • Root heterorhizy class: fibrous or pioneer roots [Column IDs F00060 and F00066].
  • Root diameter: Within a specific range of root diameters [Column ID F00949 and F00950].
  • Root age: A given age [Column ID F00061].
  • Root numbering scheme: Ordered according to a centripetal or centrifugal numbering scheme [Column ID F00059].
  • Soil depth: Collected from a given soil depth [Column ID F00985].

What portion of the plant kingdom?

  • These filters select for accepted plant family, genus, and species names, verified against The Plant List. While there are selection boxes within the filter, you can also type in the entry boxes to activate a drop-down predictive text menu that searches within any part of the plant name. To search by species, select the genus and the species epithet in separate filters rather than attempting to search the entire scientific name in the species box [Columns F01289, F01286, and F01287, respectively].

What kind of plant? [These filters are based on categories and data from the TRY plant trait database]

  • Growth form: morphology or architecture of a plant [Columns F01456].
  • Leaf habit: evergreen, deciduous, or a mixture [Columns F00042].
  • Photosynthetic pathway: C3, C4, CAM or a mixture [Columns F00043].
  • Growth form: woody, non-woody, or a mixture [Columns F00044].

Where did the roots grow? 

In turn, ancillary data associated with plant growing conditions indicate the conditions under which the root traits were measured, for example:

  • Growing conditions: Collected from plants growing in situ (i.e., plants grown and harvested under natural or field conditions), in pots (pots, greenhouses, growth chambers), or in hydroponic solutions [Column ID F01156].
  • Indoor/outdoor: If plants were grown indoors or outdoors [Column ID F01158].

Other ways to subset observations, once downloaded from the FRED User Interface, include: 

  • Environmental gradients: Collected from across observational gradients, or from experimental treatments that included nutrient, water, temperature, elevated [CO2], burning, disturbance, girdling, or light manipulations and their associated controls [Column ID F01159].

These are only a few of the many ways in which the root trait observations in FRED can be organized for comparison.