Quantifying the Microbial Utilization of Methanogenesis and Methane Loss from Northern Wetlands

Monday, 15 December 2014
J. Elizabeth Corbett, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York, NY, United States, Malak Tfaily, Pacific Northwest National Lab, Richland, WA, United States, David Burdige, Old Dominion University, Gloucester, VA, United States, Paul H Glaser, University of Minnesota Twin Cities, geology, Minneapolis, MN, United States and Jeffrey Chanton, Florida State Univ, Tallahassee, FL, United States
The importance of methanogenesis and percent of methane loss from the subsurface porewater in various northern wetland sites was quantified with isotope-mass balance equations. With equimolar amounts of CO2 and CH4 produced from methanogenesis, the amount of dissolved CO2 produced from methanogenesis as compared to other decomposition processes can be calculated and is equivalent to the amount of CH4 before loss due to ebullition, plant-mediated transport, and diffusion. This method was applied to porewater samples collected from various locations within permafrost collapse-scar bogs and northern peatlands. From the peatland sites, bogs produced less CO2-meth than fens (2.9 ± 1.3 mM and 3.7 ± 1.4 mM, respectively). Methanogenesis was a more utilized decomposition process in the bogs than the fens. However, greater amounts of CO2-meth found in fen sites was most likely due to the presence of more labile organic substrates resulting in greater overall production. More CH4 was lost in fens (89 ± 2.8%) than bogs (82 ± 5.3%) from plant-mediated transport as fens are dominated by vascular plants (Carex) while bogs are dominated by Sphagnum mosses. In permafrost sites, mid-bogs produced twice the amount of CO2-meth as bog moats (1.6 ± 0.63 mM and 0.82 ± 0.20 mM, respectively). Less methanogenesis was found in bog moats as recently thawed organic matter is exposed to initial decomposition processes and methane production grows over time. A similar amount of CH4 was lost from bog moats as mid bogs (63 ± 7.0% and 64 ± 9.3%, respectively) likely due to the greater density of vascular plants found within a bog moat.