Controls of temporal and spatial variability of methane uptake in soils of a temperate deciduous forest with different abundance of European beech (Fagus sylvaticaL.)

Guckland, Anja; Flessa, Heinz GND; Prenzel, Jürgen

Aerated forest soils are a significant sink for atmospheric methane (CH4). Soil properties, local climate and tree species can affect the soil CH4 sink. A two-year field study was conducted in a deciduous mixed forest in the Hainich National Park in Germany to quantify the sink strength of this forest for atmospheric CH4 and to determine the key factors that control the seasonal, annual and spatial variability of CH4 uptake by soils in this forest. Net exchange of CH4 was measured using closed chambers on 18 plots in three stands exhibiting different beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) abundance and which differed in soil acidity, soil texture, and organic layer thickness. The annual CH4 uptake ranged from 2.0 to 3.4 kg CH4-C ha-1. The variation of CH4 uptake over time could be explained to a large extent (R2 = 0.71, P< 0.001) by changes in soil moisture in the upper 5 cm of the mineral soil. Differences of the annual CH4 uptake between sites were primarily caused by the spatial variability of the soil clay content at a depth of 0–5 cm (R2 = 0.5, P< 0.01). The CH4 uptake during the main growing period (May–September) increased considerably with decreasing precipitation rate. Low CH4 uptake activity during winter was further reduced by periods with soil frost and snow cover. There was no evidence of a significant effect of soil acidity, soil nutrient availability, thickness of the humus layer or abundance of beech on net-CH4 uptake in soils in this deciduous forest. The results show that detailed information on the spatial distribution of the clay content in the upper mineral soil is necessary for a reliable larger scale estimate of the CH4 sink strength in this mixed deciduous forest. The results suggest that climate change will result in increasing CH4 uptake rates in this region because of the trend to drier summers and warmer winters

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Guckland, Anja / Flessa, Heinz / Prenzel, Jürgen: Controls of temporal and spatial variability of methane uptake in soils of a temperate deciduous forest with different abundance of European beech (Fagus sylvaticaL.). 2009.

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