Those of us focused on measuring belowground processes have dusted off our data, pooled them together into one harmonized database, and freely shared these hard-won observations. Our hope is that they will be used by the broader community of root and rhizosphere ecologists to tackle some of the biggest questions in belowground ecology, and that some of the answers to these questions will be hard-coded into the models that inform our understanding of the world as it is now and as it will be in the future.

The second version of the Fine-Root Ecology Database is available for download! Download the full FRED 2.0 data set, user guidance document, map, and list of data sources here. Prior to downloading the data, please read and follow the Data Use Guidelines, and it’s worth checking out some tips for using FRED before you begin your analyses. Also, see here for an updating list of corrections to FRED 2.0.

For more information, check out the ‘Project‘ page, see Iversen et al., 2017 for a paper describing the FRED initiative, and check out an ORNL research highlight on the story behind FRED.

Contribute data. 

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. After all…FRED 3.0 is just over the horizon.


Iversen CM, McCormack ML, Powell AS, Blackwood CB, Freschet GT, Kattge J, Roumet C, Stover DB, Soudzilovskaia NA, Valverde-Barrantes OJ, van Bodegom PM, Violle C. 2017. Viewpoints: A global Fine-Root Ecology Database to address belowground challenges in plant ecologyNew Phytologist 215: 15-26. 

*One of the top New Phytologist papers featured in news and social media in 2017.  

*One of the top most downloaded New Phytologist papers from 2017 – 2018. 

McCormack ML, Guo D, Iversen CM, Chen W, Eissenstat DM, Fernandez CW, Li L, Ma C, Ma Z, Poorter H, Reich PB, Zadworny M, Zanne A. 2017. Viewpoints: Building a better foundation: Improving root-trait measurements to understand and model plant and ecosystem processesNew Phytologist 215: 27-37.

McCormack ML, Powell AS, Iversen CM. 2018. Better plant data at the root of ecosystem modelsEos 99. 

McCormack ML, Iversen CM. 2019. Physical and functional constraints on viable belowground acquisition strategiesFrontiers in Plant Science 10: 1215.

Bergman J, Weigelt A, van der Plas F, Laughlin DC, Kuyper TW, Guerrero-Ramirez N, Valverde-Barrantes OJ, Bruelheide H, Freschet GT, Iversen CM et al. 2020. The fungal collaboration gradient dominates the root economics space in plantsScience Advances 6: eaba3756.

Freschet GT, Valverde-Barrantes OJ, Tucker CM, Craine JM, McCormack ML, Violle C, Fort F, Blackwood CB, Urban-Mead KR, Iversen CM et al. 2017. Climate, soil and plant functional types as drivers of global fine-root trait variationJournal of Ecology 105: 1182-1196.

Gallagher RV, Falster DS, Maitner BS, Salguero-Gómez R, Vandvik V, Pearse WD, Schneider FD, Kattge J, Poelen JH, Madin JS et al. 2020. Open Science principles for accelerating trait-based science across the Tree of LifeNature Ecology & Evolution 4: 292-303.

Kattge J, Bönisch G, Díaz S, Lavorel S, Prentice IC, Leadley P, Tautenhahn S, Werner GDA … 700+ co-authors … Wirth C. 2020. TRY plant trait database – enhanced coverage and open access. Global Change Biology 26: 119 – 188.

Koven C, Kueppers L, Iversen CM, Reich P, Thornton PE. 2016. Expanding the use of plant trait observations and ecological theory in Earth system models: DOE Workshop Report. A summary report from the Terrestrial Ecosystem Science (TES) and Earth System Modeling (ESM) Workshop on Trait Methods for Representing Ecosystem Change; Rockville, MD, 18-19 November 2015. Report Date: May 31, 2016.

Kueppers LM, Iversen CM, Koven CD. 2016. Expanding the use of plant trait observations in Earth system models. Eos 97 (DOI:10.1029/2016EO049947).

Malhotra A, Sihi D, Iversen CM. 2018. The fate of root carbon in soil: harmonizing root and soil data from across the globe. Eos 99.

Malhotra A, Todd-Brown K, Nave LE, Batjes NH, Holmquist JR, Hoyt AM, Iversen CM, Jackson RB, Lajtha K, Lawrence C, Vindušková O, Wieder W, Williams M, Hugelius G, Harden J. 2019. The landscape of soil carbon data: emerging questions, synergies and databases. Progress in Physical Geography,

McCormack ML, Iversen CM, Eissenstat DM. 2016. Moving forward with fine-root definitions and researchNew Phytologist 212: 313.

McCormack ML, Dickie IA, Eissenstat DM, Fahey TJ, Fernandez CW, Guo D, Helmisaari H-S, Hobbie EA, Iversen CM, Jackson RB, Leppalammi-Kujansuu J et al. 2015. Redefining fine roots improves understanding of below-ground contributions to terrestrial biosphere processes (Tansley Review)New Phytologist 207: 505-518.

Norby RJ, Iversen CM. 2017. Introduction to a Virtual Issue on root traitsNew Phytologist 215: 5-8.

Song X, Hoffman FM, Iversen CM, Yin Y, Kumar J, Ma C, Xu X. 2017. Significant inconsistency of vegetation carbon density in CMIP5 Earth System Models against observational data. Journal of Geophysical Research – Biogeosciences 122: 2282-2297.

Warren, JM, Hanson PJ, Iversen CM, Kumar J, Walker AP, Wullschleger SD. 2015. Root structural and functional dynamics in terrestrial biosphere models – Evaluation and recommendations (Tansley Review)New Phytologist 205: 59-78.

Xu Y, Wang D, Iversen CM, Walker A, Warren J. 2017. Building a virtual ecosystem dynamic model for root researchEnvironmental Modelling & Software 89: 97-105.

Zhu Q, Riley WJ,Iversen CM, Kattge J. 2020. Assessing impacts of plant stoichiometric traits on terrestrial ecosystem carbon accumulation using the E3SM land model. Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems 12: e2019MS001841.

Data Sets.

Iversen CM, Powell AS, McCormack ML, Blackwood CB, Freschet GT, Kattge J, Roumet C, Stover DB, Soudzilovskaia NA, Valverde-Barrantes OJ, van Bodegom PM, Violle C. 2018. Fine-Root Ecology Database (FRED): A global collection of root trait data with coincident site, vegetation, edaphic, and climatic data, Version 2. Oak Ridge National Laboratory, TES SFA, U.S. Department of Energy, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, U.S.A.

Iversen CM, Powell AS, McCormack ML, Blackwood CB, Freschet GT, Kattge J, Roumet C, Stover DB, Soudzilovskaia NA, Valverde-Barrantes OJ, van Bodegom PM, Violle C. 2016. Fine-Root Ecology Database (FRED): A Global Collection of Root Trait Data with Coincident Site, Vegetation, Edaphic, and Climatic Data, Version 1. Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, U.S.A.

This research is funded by the Office of Biological and Environmental Research in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

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