Effects of increased CO2 and N on CH4 efflux from a boreal mire: a growth chamber experiment
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Increases in the supply of atmospheric CO2 and N are expected to alter the carbon cycle, including CH4 emissions, in boreal peatlands. These effects were studied in a glasshouse experiment with peat monoliths cored from an oligotrophic pine fen. The cores with living plants were kept in 720 ppmv and 360 ppmv CO2 atmospheres for about 6 months under imitated natural temperature cycle. Fertilisation with NH4NO3 (3 g m−2 for 25 weeks) was applied to 18 of the 36 monoliths. The rate of CH4 flux was non-linearly dependent on the number of Eriophorum vaginatum shoots growing in the monoliths, probably due to the gas transport properties of the aerenchyma. The average CH4 efflux rate, standardised by the number of shoots, was increased by a maximum of 10–20% in response to the raised CO2 level. In the raised-NH4NO3 treatment, the increase in CH4 release was lower. The effect of combined CO2+NH4NO3 on CH4 release was negligible and even lower than in the single treatments. Both potential CH4 production and oxidation rates at 5, 15 and 25°C were higher near the surface than at the bottom of the core. As expected, the rates clearly depended on the incubation temperature, but the different treatments did not cause any consistent differences in either CH4 production or oxidation. The determination of potential CH4 production and oxidation in the laboratory is evidently too crude a method of differentiating substrate-induced differences in CH4 production and oxidation in vivo. These results indicate that an increase in atmospheric CO2 or N supply alone, at least in the short term, slightly enhances CH4 effluxes from boreal peatlands; but together their effect may even be restrictive.
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