Linking rhizospheric CH4 oxidation and net CH4 emissions in an arctic wetland based on 13CH4 labeling of mesocosms
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- Nielsen, C.S., Michelsen, A., Ambus, P. et al. Plant Soil (2017) 412: 201. doi:10.1007/s11104-016-3061-4
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Poorly drained arctic ecosystems are potential large emitters of methane (CH4) due to their high soil organic carbon content and low oxygen availability. In wetlands, aerenchymatous plants transport CH4 from the soil to the atmosphere, but concurrently transport O2 to the rhizosphere, which may lead to oxidation of CH4. The importance of the latter process is largely unknown for arctic plant species and ecosystems. Here, we aim to quantify the subsurface oxidation of CH4 in a waterlogged arctic ecosystem dominated by Carex aquatilis ssp. stans and Eriophorum angustifolium, and evaluate the overall effect of these plants on the CH4 budget.
A mesocosms study was established based on the upper 20 cm of an organic soil profile with intact plants retrieved from a peatland in West Greenland (69°N). We measured dissolved concentrations and emissions of 13CO2 and 13CH4 from mesocosms during three weeks after addition of 13C-enriched CH4 below the mesocosm.
Most of the recovered 13C label (>98 %) escaped the ecosystem as CH4, while less than 2 % was oxidized to 13CO2.
It is concluded that aerenchymatous plants control the overall CH4 emissions but, as a transport system for oxygen, are too inefficient to markedly reduce CH4 emissions.