Spatial heterogeneity of within-stream methane concentrations

Journal of Geophysical Research G: Biogeosciences
By: , and 

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Abstract

Streams, rivers, and other freshwater features may be significant sources of CH4 to the atmosphere. However, high spatial and temporal variabilities hinder our ability to understand the underlying processes of CH4 production and delivery to streams and also challenge the use of scaling approaches across large areas. We studied a stream having high geomorphic variability to assess the underlying scale of CH4 spatial variability and to examine whether the physical structure of a stream can explain the variation in surface CH4. A combination of high-resolution CH4 mapping, a survey of groundwater CH4 concentrations, quantitative analysis of methanogen DNA, and sediment CH4 production potentials illustrates the spatial and geomorphic controls on CH4 emissions to the atmosphere. We observed significant spatial clustering with high CH4 concentrations in organic-rich stream reaches and lake transitions. These sites were also enriched in the methane-producing mcrA gene and had highest CH4 production rates in the laboratory. In contrast, mineral-rich reaches had significantly lower concentrations and had lesser abundances of mcrA. Strong relationships between CH4and the physical structure of this aquatic system, along with high spatial variability, suggest that future investigations will benefit from viewing streams as landscapes, as opposed to ecosystems simply embedded in larger terrestrial mosaics. In light of such high spatial variability, we recommend that future workers evaluate stream networks first by using similar spatial tools in order to build effective sampling programs.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Spatial heterogeneity of within-stream methane concentrations
Series title Journal of Geophysical Research G: Biogeosciences
DOI 10.1002/2016JG003698
Volume 122
Issue 5
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher American Geophysical Union
Contributing office(s) National Research Program - Central Branch
Description 13 p.
First page 1036
Last page 1048