This study evaluates relationships between vegetation and stable isotope distribution within a large, northern peat-accumulating wetland. Concentration and δ13C for both porewater and emitted methane were obtained from June-September for two systems characterized by different plant assemblages and hydrologic regimes: a Carex-dominated fen and a Sphagnum-dominated, forested bog crest. Average methane emissions were higher in the fen than at the bog crest across the entire growing season. Fen porewater methane concentrations were maintained at consistently low levels in the upper one-third of the peat column, and emitted methane was substantially 13C-depleted (by approx. 6‰) relative to shallow porewater methane, trends which are characteristic of passive plant-mediated transport of rhizospheric methane to the atmosphere. Fen porewater δ13C-CH4 values in shallow peat (approx. -59‰) suggest that microbial respiration was primarily driven by acetate fermentation. CO2 reduction became more important deeper in the peat column with δ13C-CH4 values ranging from approx. -65 to -69‰ between 1 and 2.8 m. In contrast to the fen, porewater methane concentrations in the bog were usually at near-maximum levels just below the water table. δ13C values for emitted CH4 in the bog were enriched relative to those for shallow porewater CH4 by approx. 10‰, indicating that methane was subject to oxidation as it exited from the peat via passive diffusion. Methanogenesis in the peat at the bog crest appears to have been substrate-limited, with porewater δ13C-CH4 (approx. -67‰) suggestive of CO2 reduction at all depths. (C) 2000 Annals of Botany Company.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by NSF-DEP grant #9615429. We thank T. Popp, L. Lapham, C. Kelley, G. Whiting and K. Dillon for field assistance. We thank James Seago and two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments.
- Carex lasiocarpa
- Sphagnum spp.
- Stable isotopes