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Temporal dynamics of CO2 and CH4 loss potentials in response to rapid hydrological shifts in tidal freshwater wetland soils

RoyChowdhury, Taniya, Bramer, Lisa, Hoyt, David W., Kim, Young-Mo, Metz, Thomas O., McCue, Lee Ann, Diefenderfer, Heida L., Jansson, Janet K., Bailey, Vanessa
Ecological engineering 2018 v.114 pp. 104-114
antecedent moisture, biochemical pathways, carbon, carbon dioxide, climate, climate change, drying, ecosystems, freshwater, iron, metabolites, metabolomics, methane, methane production, models, soil respiration, soil water, stress response, sulfates, temporal variation, wetland soils, wetlands, Columbia River, Washington (state)
Earth System Models predict climate extremes that will impact regional and global hydrology. Aquatic-terrestrial transition zones like wetlands are subjected to the immediate consequence of climate change with shifts in the magnitude and dynamics of hydrologic flow. Such fluctuating hydrology can alter the nature and rate of biogeochemical transformations and significantly impact the carbon balance of the ecosystem. We tested the impacts of fluctuating hydrology and, specifically, the role of antecedent moisture conditions in determining the dominant carbon loss mechanisms in soils sampled from a tidal freshwater wetland system in the lower Columbia River, WA, USA. Our objective was to understand shifts in biogeochemical processes in response to changing soil moisture, based on soil respiration and methane production rates, and to elucidate such responses based on the observed electron acceptor and metabolite profiles under laboratory conditions. Metabolomics and biogeochemical process rates provided evidence that soil redox was the principal factor driving metabolic function. Fluctuating redox conditions altered terminal electron acceptor and donor availability and recovery strengths of their concentrations in soil such that a disproportionate release of carbon dioxide stemmed from alternative anaerobic degradation processes like sulfate and iron reduction compared to carbon loss due to methanogenesis. Our results show that extended and short-term saturation created conditions conducive to increasing metabolite availability for anaerobic decomposition processes, with a significant lag in methanogenesis. In contrast, extended drying caused a cellular-level stress response and rapid recycling of alternate electron acceptors.