Neotropical peatland methane emissions along a vegetation and biogeochemical gradient.

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2017

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Abstract

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.

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10.1371/journal.pone.0187019

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Winton, R Scott, Neal Flanagan and Curtis J Richardson (2017). Neotropical peatland methane emissions along a vegetation and biogeochemical gradient. PLoS One, 12(10). p. e0187019. 10.1371/journal.pone.0187019 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/15696.

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Scholars@Duke

Flanagan

Neal Flanagan

Visiting Assistant Professor
Richardson

Curtis J. Richardson

Research Professor of Resource Ecology in the Division of Environmental Science and Policy

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 phosphorus nutrient dynamics in wetlands and the effects of environmental stress on plant communities and ecosystem functions and services. The objectives of his research are to utilize ecological principles to develop new approaches to environmental problem solving. The goal of his research is to provide predictive models and approaches to aid in the management of ecosystems.

Recent research activities: 1) wetland restoration of plant communities and its effects on regional water quality and nutrient biogeochemical cycles, 2) the development of ecosystem metrics as indices of wetland restoration success, 3) the effects of nanomaterial on wetland and stream ecosystem processes, 4) the development of ecological thresholds along environmental gradients, 5) wetland development trends and restoration in coastal southeastern United States, 6) the development of an outdoor wetland and stream research and teaching laboratory on Duke Forest, 7) differential nutrient limitation (DNL) as a mechanism to overcome N or P limitations across trophic levels in wetland ecosystems, and 8) carbon sequestration in coastal North Carolina pocosins.

Richardson oversees the main analytical lab in NSOE, which is open to students and faculty. Dr. Richardson has been listed in Who's Who in Science™ annually since 1989 and was elected President of the Society of Wetland Scientists in 1987-88. He has served on many editorial review committees for peer-reviewed scientific journals, and he is a past Chair of the Nicholas School Division of Environmental Sciences and Policy. Dr. Richardson is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Society of Wetland Scientists, and the Soil Science Society of America.


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