Transitional slopes act as hotspots of both soil CO2 emission and CH4 uptake in a temperate forest landscape



Forest soils are an important component of CO2 and CH4 fluxes at the global scale, but the magnitude of these fluxes varies greatly in space and time within a landscape. Understanding the spatial and temporal distributions of these fluxes across complex landscapes remains a major challenge for researchers and land managers alike. We investigated the spatiotemporal variability of soil-atmosphere CO2 and CH4 fluxes and the relationships of these fluxes to chemical and physical soil properties distributed across a topographically-heterogeneous landscape. Soil CO2 and CH4 fluxes were measured along with soil temperature, moisture, bulk density, texture, carbon, sorption capacity, and dissolved organic matter quality over 2 years along hillslope transects spanning valley bottom, transition zone, and upland landscape positions in a temperate forest watershed. Transition zone soil CO2 efflux was 54–160% higher than low-lying valley bottoms, and 15–54% higher than uplands. Net seasonal CH4 uptake was 58–150% higher in transition zone soils than in uplands, while valley bottoms were occasionally large net sources (up to 19 nmol CH4 m−2 s−1). Soil CO2 efflux and net CH4 uptake were both positively associated with seasonal temperature, and were highest in soils with relatively high carbon and clay content, and relatively low bulk density, moisture, and sorption capacity. We concluded that: (1) transition zone soils act as landscape hotspots for net CH4 uptake in addition to CO2 efflux, and (2) that this spatial distribution is more consistent across seasons for net CH4 uptake than for CO2 efflux.


Landscape Carbon dioxide Methane Flux Forest Soils 



This research was funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA-AFRI Grant 2013-02758), and we would like to acknowledge the University of Delaware Soil Testing Facility, Shawn Del Percio, Catherine Winters, and Samuel Villarreal for their help in the field and laboratory.

Supplementary material

10533_2018_435_MOESM1_ESM.docx (36 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 36 kb)


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Plant and Soil SciencesUniversity of DelawareNewarkUSA

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