Soil methane sink capacity response to a long-term wildfire chronosequence in Northern Sweden

McNamara, Niall P., Gregg, Ruth, Oakley, Simon, Stott, Andy, Rahman, Md. Tanvir, Murrell, J. Colin, Wardle, David A., Bardgett, Richard D. and Ostle, Nick J. (2015) Soil methane sink capacity response to a long-term wildfire chronosequence in Northern Sweden. PLoS One, 10 (9). ISSN 1932-6203

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Boreal forests occupy nearly one fifth of the terrestrial land surface and are recognised as globally important regulators of carbon (C) cycling and greenhouse gas emissions. Carbon sequestration processes in these forests include assimilation of CO2 into biomass and subsequently into soil organic matter, and soil microbial oxidation of methane (CH4). In this study we explored how ecosystem retrogression, which drives vegetation change, regulates the important process of soil CH4 oxidation in boreal forests. We measured soil CH4 oxidation processes on a group of 30 forested islands in northern Sweden differing greatly in fire history, and collectively representing a retrogressive chronosequence, spanning 5000 years. Across these islands the build-up of soil organic matter was observed to increase with time since fire disturbance, with a significant correlation between greater humus depth and increased net soil CH4 oxidation rates. We suggest that this increase in net CH4 oxidation rates, in the absence of disturbance, results as deeper humus stores accumulate and provide niches for methanotrophs to thrive. By using this gradient we have discovered important regulatory controls on the stability of soil CH4 oxidation processes that could not have not been explored through shorter-term experiments. Our findings indicate that in the absence of human interventions such as fire suppression, and with increased wildfire frequency, the globally important boreal CH4 sink could be diminished.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2015 McNamara et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited
Uncontrolled Keywords: sdg 15 - life on land ,/dk/atira/pure/sustainabledevelopmentgoals/life_on_land
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Science > School of Environmental Sciences
University of East Anglia Research Groups/Centres > Theme - ClimateUEA
UEA Research Groups: Faculty of Science > Research Centres > Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Conservation
Faculty of Science > Research Groups > Environmental Biology
Depositing User: Pure Connector
Date Deposited: 15 Mar 2016 13:00
Last Modified: 04 Jul 2023 13:30
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0129892

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