Plant and Soil

, Volume 240, Issue 1, pp 77–90 | Cite as

Four years continuous record of CH4-exchange between the atmosphere and untreated and limed soil of a N-saturated spruce and beech forest ecosystem in Germany



In order to gain information about seasonal and interannual variations of CH4-fluxes at a spruce control site, a limed spruce site and a beech site of the Höglwald Forest, Bavaria, Germany, complete annual cycles of CH4-exchange between the soil and the atmosphere with 2-hourly resolution were followed for 4 consecutive years. The ranges of CH4 fluxes observed for the different sites were: +12.4 to −69.4 μg CH4 m−2 h−1 (spruce control site), +11.7 to −51.4 μg CH4 m−2 h−1 (limed spruce site), and −4.4 to −167.3 μg CH4 m−2 h−1 (beech site). Lowest rates of atmospheric CH4-uptake or even a weak net-emission of CH4 by the soils were observed during winter/spring times, whereas highest rates of CH4-uptake were always found in summer/spring. Over the entire observation period of 4 years, mean CH4-uptake rates were −1.82 kg CH4-C ha−1 yr−1 at the spruce control site, −1.31 kg CH4-C ha−1 yr−1 at the limed spruce site, and −4.84 kg CH4-C ha−1 yr−1 at the beech site. The results obtained in this study demonstrate that in view of the huge interannual variations in CH4-fluxes of approx. 1 kg CH4-C ha−1 yr−1, multiple year measurements of CH4-fluxes are necessary to accurately characterize the sink strength of temperate forest for atmospheric CH4. By comparison of CH4-fluxes measured at the spruce control site and the limed spruce site, a significant negative effect of forest floor liming on CH4-uptake could be demonstrated. Compared to the spruce stand, the beech stand showed on average approx. 3 times higher rates of atmospheric CH4-uptake, most likely due to pronounced differences between both sites with regard to the organic layer structure and bulk density of the mineral soil. Regression analysis between CH4-fluxes and environmental parameters revealed that at all sites the dominating factors regulating temporal variations of CH4 fluxes were soil moisture and soil temperature. Field measurements of CH4 concentrations in the soil profile and laboratory measurements of CH4-oxidation and CH4-production activity on soil samples taken from different soil depths showed that the CH4-flux at the Höglwald Forest sites is the net-result of simultaneous occurring production and consumption of CH4 within the soil. Highest CH4-oxidation activity was found in the uppermost centimeters of the mineral soil, whereas highest potential CH4-production activity was found in the organic layer.

beech (Fagus sylvaticaCH4-concentration profiles in the soil CH4-oxidation CH4-production liming spruce (Picea abies


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Adamsen A P S and King G 1993 Methane consumption in temperate and subarctic forest forest soils: Rates, vertical zonation and responses to water and nitrogen. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 59, 485-490.Google Scholar
  2. Ambus P and Christensen S 1995 Spatial and seasonal nitrous oxide and methane fluxes in Danish Forest-, Grassland-and Agroecosystems. J. Environ. Qual. 24, 993-1001.Google Scholar
  3. Borken W and Brumme R 1997 Liming practice in temperate forest ecosystems and the effects on CO2, N2O and CH4 fluxes. Soil Use Manage. 13, 251-257.Google Scholar
  4. Borken W, Brumme R and Xu X J 2000 Effects of prolonged soil drought on CH4 oxidation in a temperate spruce forest. J. Geophys. Res. 105, 7079-7088.Google Scholar
  5. Brumme R and Borken W 1999 Site variation in methane oxidation as affected by atmospheric deposition and type of temperate forest ecosystem. Global Biogeochem. Cycles 13, 493-501.Google Scholar
  6. Butterbach-Bahl K, Gasche R, Breuer L and Papen H 1997 Fluxes of NO and N2O from temperate forest soils: Impact of forest type, N deposition and of liming on the NO and N2O emissions. Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems 48, 79-90.Google Scholar
  7. Butterbach-Bahl K, Gasche R, Huber C, Kreutzer K and Papen H 1998 Impact of N-input by wet deposition on N-trace gas fluxes and CH4-oxidation in spruce forest ecosystems of the temperate zone in Europe. Atmos. Environ. 32, 559-564.Google Scholar
  8. Castro M S, Steudler P A, Melillo J M, Aber J D and Millham S 1993 Exchange of N2O and CH4 between the atmosphere and soils in spruce-fir forests in the northeastern United States. Biogeochemistry 18, 119-135.Google Scholar
  9. Castro M S, Steudler P A, Melillo J M, Aber J D and Bowden R D 1995 Factors controlling atmospheric methane consumption by temperate forest soils. Global Biogeochem. Cycles 9, 1-10.Google Scholar
  10. Crill P M 1991 Seasonal patterns of methane uptake and carbon dioxide release by a temperate woodland soil. Global Biogeochem. Cycles 5, 319-334.Google Scholar
  11. Czepiel P M, Crill P M and Harriss R C 1995 Environmental factors influencing the variability of methane oxidation in temperate forest soils. J. Geophys. Res. 100, 9359-9364.Google Scholar
  12. Gasche R 1998 Ganzjährige Messungen zur Quantifizierung der NO/NO2-Flüsse in einem Stickstoff-übersättigten Waldökosystem (Höglwald) und Identifizierung der an der N-Oxid-Emission beteiligten mikrobiellen Prozesse. Schriftenreihe des Fraunhofer Instituts Atmosphärische Umweltforschung (IFU) 51, 1-183.Google Scholar
  13. Gasche R and Papen H 1999 A 3-year continuous record of nitrogen trace gas fluxes from untreated and limed soil of a N-saturated spruce and beech forest ecosystem in Germany 2. NO and NO2 fluxes. J. Geophys. Res. 104, 18505-18520.Google Scholar
  14. Göttlein A and Kreutzer K 1991 The Höglwald experimental site as compared to other ecological field studies. Forstwiss. Forsch. 39, 22-29.Google Scholar
  15. Kasimir Klemedtsson Å and Klemedtsson L 1997 Methane uptake in Swedish forest soil in relation to liming and extra N-deposition. Biol. Fert. Soils 25, 296-301.Google Scholar
  16. Khalil M A K 2000 Atmospheric methane. In Atmospheric Methane: Ist Role In The Global Environment. Ed. MAK Kahlil. pp 1-8. Springer, Berlin.Google Scholar
  17. Kreutzer K, Göttlein A, Pröbstle P and Zuleger M 1991 Höglwald Research 1982-1989. Objective, concept, basic data. Forstwiss. Forsch. 39, 11-21.Google Scholar
  18. Kreutzer K 1995 Effects of forest liming on soil processes, Plant Soil 168-169, 447-470.Google Scholar
  19. Macdonald J A, Skiba U, Sheppard L, Hargreaves K J, Smith K A and Fowler D 1996 Soil environmental variables affecting the flux of methane from a range of forest, moorland and agricultural soils. Biogeochemistry 34, 113-132.Google Scholar
  20. Papen H and Butterbach-Bahl K 1999 A 3 year continuous record of nitrogen trace gas fluxes from untreated and limed soil of a N-saturated spruce and beech forest ecosystem in Germany, I. N2O emissions. J. Geophys. Res. 104, 18487-18503.Google Scholar
  21. Priemé A and Christensen S 1997 Seasonal and spatial variation of methane oxidation in a Danish spruce forest. Soil Biol. Biochem. 29, 1165-1172.Google Scholar
  22. Rothe A 1997 Einfluß des Baumartenanteils auf Durchwurzelung, Wasserhaushalt, Stoffhaushalt und Zuwachsleistung eines Fichten-Buchen-Mischbestandes am Standort Höglwald, Forstliche Forschungsberichte München 163, 1-174.Google Scholar
  23. Saari A, Heiskanen J and Martikainen P J 1998 Effect of the organic horizon on methane oxidation and uptake in soil of a boreal Scots pine forest. FEMS Microbiol. Ecol. 26, 245-255.Google Scholar
  24. Saari A, Martikainen P J, Ferm A, Ruuskanen J, De Boer W, Troelstra S R and Laanbroek H J 1997 Methane oxidation in soil profiles of Dutch and Finnish coniferous forests with different soil texture and atmospheric nitrogen deposition. Soil Biol. Biochem. 29, 1625-1632.Google Scholar
  25. Schnell S and King G M 1994 Mechanistic analysis of ammonium inhibition of atmospheric methane consumption in forest soils. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 60, 3514-3521.Google Scholar
  26. Schnell S and King G M 1996 Responses of methanotrophic activity in soils and cultures to water stress. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 62, 3203-3209.Google Scholar
  27. Schütz H, Seiler W and Rennenberg H 1990 Soil and land use related sources and sinks of methane (CH4) in the context of the global methane budget. In Soils and the Greenhouse Effect. Ed. AF Bouwman. pp 269-285. Wiley and Sons, Chichester, New York.Google Scholar
  28. Sitaula B K, Bakken L R and Abrahamsen G 1995 CH4 uptake by temperate forest soil: Effect of N input and soil acidification. Soil Biol. Biochem. 27, 871-880.Google Scholar
  29. Smith K A, Robertson G P and Melillo J M 1994 Exchange of trace gases between the terrestrial biosphere and the atmosphere in the mid-latitudes. In Global Atmospheric-Biospheric Chemistry. Ed. RG Prinn. pp 179-203. Plenum Press, New York, London.Google Scholar
  30. Steinkamp R, Butterbach-Bahl K and Papen H 1999 CH4 oxidation by soils of a N limited and N fertilized spruce forest soils in the Black Forest, Germany. Soil Biol. Biochem. (submitted to Soil Biol. Biochem.).Google Scholar
  31. Steudler P A, Bowden R D, Melillo J M and Aber J D 1989 Influence of nitrogen fertilization on methane uptake in temperate forest soils. Nature 341, 314-316.Google Scholar
  32. Stoddard J L and Traaen T S 1995 The stages of nitrogen saturation: Classification of catchments included in ICP on waters. In Mapping and Modelling of Critical Loads for Nitrogen-A Workshop Report. Eds. M Hornung, MA Sutton and RB Wilson. pp 69-76. Institute of Terrestrial Ecology, Bush Estate, Midlothian, UK.Google Scholar
  33. Yavitt J B, Downey D M, Lang G E and Sexstone A J 1990 Methane consumption in two temperate forest soils. Biogeochemistry 9, 39-52.Google Scholar
  34. Yavitt J B, Simmons J A and Fahey T J 1993 Methane fluxes in a northern hardwood forest ecosystem in relation to acid precipitation. Chemosphere 26, 721-730.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Fraunhofer Institute for Atmospheric Environmental ResearchGarmisch-PartenkirchenGermany

Personalised recommendations