Neotropical peatland methane emissions along a vegetation and biogeochemical gradient.
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Tropical wetlands are thought to be the most important source of interannual variability in atmospheric methane (CH4) concentrations, yet sparse data prevents them from being incorporated into Earth system models. This problem is particularly pronounced in the neotropics where bottom-up models based on water table depth are incongruent with top-down inversion models suggesting unaccounted sinks or sources of CH4. The newly documented vast areas of peatlands in the Amazon basin may account for an important unrecognized CH4 source, but the hydrologic and biogeochemical controls of CH4 dynamics from these systems remain poorly understood. We studied three zones of a peatland in Madre de Dios, Peru, to test whether CH4 emissions and pore water concentrations varied with vegetation community, soil chemistry and proximity to groundwater sources. We found that the open-canopy herbaceous zone emitted roughly one-third as much CH4 as the Mauritia flexuosa palm-dominated areas (4.7 ± 0.9 and 14.0 ± 2.4 mg CH4 m-2 h-1, respectively). Emissions decreased with distance from groundwater discharge across the three sampling sites, and tracked changes in soil carbon chemistry, especially increased soil phenolics. Based on all available data, we calculate that neotropical peatlands contribute emissions of 43 ± 11.9 Tg CH4 y-1, however this estimate is subject to geographic bias and will need revision once additional studies are published.
Published Version (Please cite this version)10.1371/journal.pone.0187019
Publication InfoFlanagan, Neal; Richardson, Curtis J; & Winton, RS (2017). Neotropical peatland methane emissions along a vegetation and biogeochemical gradient. PLoS One, 12(10). pp. e0187019. 10.1371/journal.pone.0187019. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/15696.
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Visiting Assistant Professor
John O. Blackburn Distinguished Professor
Curtis J. Richardson is Professor of Resource Ecology and founding Director of the Duke University Wetland Center in the Nicholas School of the Environment. Dr. Richardson earned his degrees from the State University of New York and the University of Tennessee. His research interests in applied ecology focus on long-term ecosystem response to large-scale perturbations such as climate change, toxic materials, trace metals, flooding, or nutrient additions. He has specific interests in phosphor
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