Articles | Volume 12, issue 19
Research article
07 Oct 2015
Research article |  | 07 Oct 2015

Does Juncus effusus enhance methane emissions from grazed pastures on peat?

A. Henneberg, L. Elsgaard, B. K. Sorrell, H. Brix, and S. O. Petersen

Abstract. Methane (CH4) emissions from drained organic soils are generally low, but internal gas transport in aerenchymatous plants may result in local emission hotspots. In a paired-sample field study at three different sites we measured fluxes of CH4 with static chambers from adjacent sampling quadrats with and without Juncus effusus during four field campaigns. At all three sites, CH4 was observed in the soil at all sampling depths (5 to 100 cm), and in most cases both above and below the groundwater table. During spring, local maxima suggested methanogenesis also took place above the water table at all three sites. We found significant CH4 emissions at all three sites, but emission controls were clearly different. Across the three sites, average emission rates (±1 SE) for sampling quadrats with and without J. effusus were 1.47 ± 0.28 and 1.37 ± 0.33 mg CH4 m−2 h−1, respectively, with no overall effect of J. effusus on CH4 emissions. However, a significant effect of J. effusus was seen at one of the three sites. At this site, local CH4 maxima were closer to the soil surface than at the other sites, and the upper soil layers were dryer. This could have affected both root CH4 accessibility and CH4 oxidation respectively, and together with limited gas diffusivity in the soil column, cause elevated CH4 emissions from J. effusus. We conclude that J. effusus has the potential to act as point sources of CH4 from drained peatlands, but more studies on the specific conditions under which there is an effect, are needed before the results can be used in modelling of CH4 emissions.

Final-revised paper