Soil Methane Uptake Increases under Continuous Throughfall Reduction in a Temperate Evergreen, Broadleaved Eucalypt Forest
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Soils in temperate forests ecosystems are the greatest terrestrial CH4 sink globally. Global and regional circulation models predict decreased average rainfall, increased extreme rainfall events and increased temperatures for many temperate ecosystems. However, most studies of soil CH4 uptake have only considered extended periods of drought rather than an overall decrease in rainfall amount. We measured soil CH4 uptake from March 2010 to March 2012 after installing passive rainfall reduction systems to intercept approximately 40% of throughfall in a temperate broadleaf evergreen eucalypt forest in south-eastern Australia. Throughfall reduction caused an average reduction of 15.1 ± 6.4% (SE) in soil volumetric water content, a reduction of 19.8 ± 6.9% in soil water-filled pore space (%WFPS) and a 20.1 ± 6.8% increase in soil air-filled porosity. In response to these changes, soil CH4 uptake increased by 54.7 ± 19.3%. The increase in soil CH4 uptake could be explained by increased diffusivity in drier soils, whilst the activity of methanotrophs remained relatively unchanged. It is likely that soil CH4 uptake will increase if rainfall reduces in temperate broadleaf evergreen forests of Australia as a consequence of climate change.
Keywordssoil CH4 exchange soil moisture sensitivity soil temperature drought dry sclerophyll eucalypt forest throughfall reduction climate change south-eastern Australia
The study was supported by funding from the Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (TERN) Australian Supersite Network, the TERN OzFlux Network, the Australian Research Council (ARC) grants LE0882936 and DP120101735 and the Integrated Forest Ecosystem Research program funded by the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning. The authors specially thank the many internship students from the Institut Polytechnique LaSalle Beauvais, and Xin Kun and Julio Najera, who helped them with field data collection and in the laboratory, and Ian Gordon and Rachel Sore for their advice in statistical analyses.
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