Microtopography Matters: Belowground CH4 Cycling Regulated by Differing Microbial Processes in Peatland Hummocks and Lawns

Clarice Perryman
Carmody McCalley
Jessica Ernakovich
Louis Lamit
Joanne Shorter
Erik Lilleskov
Ruth Varner
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This resource is available on an external database and may require a paid subscription to access it. It is included on the CCLM to support our goal of capturing and sharing the breadth of all available knowledge pertaining to Boreal Caribou, Wetlands, and Land Management.

Peatlands provide globally important carbon storage and sequestration functions, however, they have also been found to be a significant source of methane (CH4). This release of CH4 may be triggered by factors such as climate variability, vegetation cover, and water table depth. With global warming continuing to persist, it is increasingly more important to better understand the factors that contribute to peatland CH4 emissions.  

To better understand the factors controlling CH4 release in peatlands, Perryman et al. (2022) examined underground CH4 cycling in northern peatland areas in a mineral poor fen in New Hampshire, U.S.A. Researchers were then able to compare the potential rates and controls of CH4 cycling between the areas while evaluating methane consuming and methane producing organism activity using a variety of mechanisms such as incubation, porewater CH4 concentration, and DNA sequencing. Researchers found that areas with lower water table depth and slight elevations were key areas for CH4 consumption, and lower wetter areas were key for CH4 production. It was also found that CH4 chemistry and organism activity were most affected by changes in moisture. With these findings, researchers are able to better understand the effects of climate change on CH4 cycling and CH4 consumption and production across peatlands. This will help in predicting emissions across larger landscapes when using global modelling systems. Learn more here.