Root Trait Data Contributions

These data belong to all of us.

The FRED Initiative began as a grass roots community effort, and the resulting FRED database is a community product; these data belong to all of us. We fully recognize how hard-won and precious these observations are, and we hope that FRED will be used by the broader community of root ecologists and terrestrial biosphere modelers to advance our understanding of belowground processes in ecosystems across the globe. Furthermore, FRED is built on community data and its continued improvement and expansion hinges largely on community interest and engagement. We strongly encourage researchers to directly contribute data, including unpublished studies, as well as unpublished individual replicates not presented in published works, both to increase the number of observations as well as provide more detailed information trait variation within a species or a site. After all…FRED 3.0 is just over the horizon.


  • Data collection forFREDis ongoing and will continue for the foreseeable future, with the expectation of contributions and updates from the user community.

    Published data sources. We encourage researchers to notify us of published data sources that have not yet been incorporated into the continually updated list of FRED data sources. We also welcome submission of Excel files or other organized files where these published data can be more easily obtained compared with manual collection from the published sources. This will facilitate more rapid inclusion of your data and enable us to work through a greater number of overall data sources.

    Unpublished data sources. We are also accepting additional data sources that may include: (1) more detail on published data (e.g., data from individual replicates rather than the published mean), or (2) data that have never been included in a publication (or are not freely available through a published work). However, we are only soliciting data that the contributors are willing to make freely available to the broader scientific community with unrestricted access. We are happy to work with individual researchers to have a Digital Object Identifier assigned to their data set. Contact us for continued conversation off-line.

    Data formats. Currently, we are accepting uploads of data sources as pdfs for original publications (we are not accepting images or scans at this time) as well as data organized in Excel, text, and csv files. If the data contributor would find it easier to enter their data into the existing FRED framework, contact us for continued conversation off-line.

  • Please use the following process to submit data contributions:

    1. Visit the ORNL File Upload System page
    2. Select "Choose File" and locate each file to be uploaded
    3. Click "Upload File(s)" when all files have been chosen
    4. Complete the "Your email address," "Subject," and "additional text" fields appropriately.
      NOTE: enter as the recipient address
    5. Click "Send email"
  • There was a 50% increase in root trait observations between FRED 1.0 and FRED 2.0, with the greatest increases in the categories of anatomy (88% increase), architecture (519%), chemistry (67%), and morphology (91%). However, the root traits included in FRED 2.0 are unequally distributed across these broad trait categories. There are only 2045 observations of root anatomy, where root stele diameter is the most commonly measured trait, and 9158 observations of root architecture, where specific root tip abundance is the most commonly measured trait. There are a large number of observations of root chemistry (19,540), where root nitrogen content is the most commonly measured trait, and 10,340 observations of root dynamics, where root decomposition (fraction of mass remaining) is the most commonly measured trait. There are 4355 observations of root microbial associations, where mycorrhiza type is the most commonly measured trait, and 18,081 observations of root morphology, where specific root length is the most commonly measured trait. There are only 3015 observations of root physiology, where root respiration (measured as oxygen uptake) is the most commonly measured trait, whereas the root system had the largest number of observations (39,065), with belowground biomass per unit ground area as the most commonly measured trait. More details on the observation numbers for other traits can be found here.