The contribution of trees to ecosystem methane emissions in a temperate forested wetland

Pangala, Sunitha R.; Hornibrook, Edward R.C.; Gowing, David J. and Gauci, Vincent (2015). The contribution of trees to ecosystem methane emissions in a temperate forested wetland. Global Change Biology, 21(7) pp. 2642–2654.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/gcb.12891

Abstract

Wetland-adapted trees are known to transport soil-produced methane (CH4), an important greenhouse gas to the atmosphere, yet seasonal variations and controls on the magnitude of tree-mediated CH4 emissions remain unknown for mature forests. We examined the spatial and temporal variability in stem CH4 emissions in situ and their controls in two wetland-adapted tree species (Alnus glutinosa and Betula pubescens) located in a temperate forested wetland. Soil and herbaceous plant-mediated CH4 emissions from hollows and hummocks also were measured, thus enabling an estimate of contributions from each pathway to total ecosystem flux. Stem CH4 emissions varied significantly between the two tree species, with Alnus glutinosa displaying minimal seasonal variations, while substantial seasonal variations were observed in Betula pubescens. Trees from each species emitted similar quantities of CH4 from their stems regardless of whether they were situated in hollows or hummocks. Soil temperature and pore-water CH4 concentrations best explained annual variability in stem emissions, while wood-specific density and pore-water CH4 concentrations best accounted for between-species variations in stem CH4 emission. Our study demonstrates that tree-mediated CH4 emissions contribute up to 27% of seasonal ecosystem CH4 flux in temperate forested wetland, with the largest relative contributions occurring in spring and winter. Tree-mediated CH4 emissions currently are not included in trace gas budgets of forested wetland. Further work is required to quantify and integrate this transport pathway into CH4 inventories and process-based models.

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