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Vegetation affects timing and location of wetland methane emissions
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  • Sheel Bansal,
  • Olivia Johnson,
  • Jacob Meier,
  • Xiaoyan Zhu
Sheel Bansal
U.S. Geological Survey

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Olivia Johnson
US Geological Survey Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
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Jacob Meier
U.S. Geological Survey
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Xiaoyan Zhu
Jilin Jianzhu University
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Common assumptions about how vegetation affects wetland methane (CH) flux include acting as conduits for CH release, providing carbon substrates for growth and activity of methanogenic organisms, and supplying oxygen to support CH oxidation. However, these effects may change through time, especially in seasonal wetlands that experience drying and re-wetting, or change across space, dependent on proximity to vegetation. In a mesocosm study, we assessed the impacts of on CH flux using clear flux-chamber measurements directly over plants (‘whole-plant’), adjacent to plants (where roots were present but no stems; ‘plant-adjacent’), and plant-free soils (‘control’). During the establishment phase of the study (first 30-days), the whole-plant treatment had ~5-times higher CH flux rates (51.78±8.16 mg-C md) than plant-adjacent or control treatments, which was primarily due to plant-mediated transport, with little contribution from diffusive-only flux. However, high fluxes from whole-plants depleted porewater CH concentrations both directly below whole-plant and in neighboring plant-adjacent treatments, while controls accumulated a highly concentrated reservoir of porewater CH. When the water table was drawn down to simulate seasonal drying, reserve porewater CH from control soil was released as a pulse, equaling the earlier higher CH emissions from whole-plants. Plant-adjacent treatments, which had neither plant-mediated CH transport nor a concentrated reservoir of porewater CH, had low CH flux throughout the study. Our findings indicate that in seasonal wetlands, vegetation affects the timing and location of CH emissions. These results have important mechanistic and methodological implications for understanding the role of vegetation on wetland CH flux.
Sep 2020Published in Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences volume 125 issue 9. 10.1029/2020JG005777