, Volume 329, Issue 1-2, pp 269-281
Date: 02 Sep 2009

Microbially mediated CH4 consumption and N2O emission is affected by elevated CO2, soil water content, and composition of semi-arid grassland species

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Abstract

Elevated CO2 affects plant productivity, but also water availability and plant species composition in semi-arid grasslands, thereby potentially causing complex effects on CH4 consumption and N2O emission. We studied the effects of atmospheric CO2 concentration (400 vs 780 μL L−1), water content (15 vs 20% gravimetric soil moisture), and composition of semi-arid grassland species (perennial grasses Bouteloua gracilis, Hesperostipa comata, and Pascopyrum smithii; sub-shrub Artemisia frigida; invasive forb Linaria dalmatica grown in monoculture and all five species together) on CH4 consumption and N2O emission in a full factorial greenhouse experiment. We used a unique method where we measured microbial effects on CH4 consumption and N2O emission in isolation from effects of gas diffusivity. Microbially mediated CH4 consumption was significantly higher under elevated CO2 (by 20%), but was not affected by soil water content or plant species composition. Microbially mediated N2O emission was not significantly affected by elevated CO2, but was significantly higher with high water content (by 67%) and differed significantly among species. Treatment effects on CH4 consumption and N2O emission often could not be explained simply by differences in soil moisture, suggesting that treatment-induced changes in other soil and microbial properties played a role in causing these effects.

Responsible Editor: Elizabeth M. Baggs.