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The importance of plants for methane emission at the ecosystem scale

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

  • D. Bastviken
  • C.C. Treat
  • S.R. Pangala
  • V. Gauci
  • A. Enrich-Prast
  • M. Karlson
  • M. Gålfalk
  • M.B. Romano
  • H.O. Sawakuchi
Article number103596
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>30/01/2023
<mark>Journal</mark>Aquatic Botany
Number of pages14
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date18/11/22
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Methane (CH4), one of the key long-lived atmospheric greenhouse gases, is primarily produced from organic matter. Accordingly, net primary production of organic matter sets the boundaries for CH4 emissions. Plants, being dominant primary producers, are thereby indirectly sustaining most global CH4 emissions, albeit with delays in time and with spatial offsets between plant primary production and subsequent CH4 emission. In addition, plant communities can enhance or hamper ecosystem production, oxidation, and transport of CH4 in multiple ways, e.g., by shaping carbon, nutrient, and redox gradients, and by representing a physical link between zones with extensive CH4 production in anoxic sediments or soils and the atmosphere. This review focuses on how plants and other primary producers influence CH4 emissions with the consequences at ecosystem scales. We outline mechanisms of interactions and discuss flux regulation, quantification, and knowledge gaps across multiple ecosystem examples. Some recently proposed plant-related ecosystem CH4 fluxes are difficult to reconcile with the global atmospheric CH4 budget and the enigmas related to these fluxes are highlighted. Overall, ecosystem CH4 emissions are strongly linked to primary producer communities, directly or indirectly, and properly quantifying magnitudes and regulation of these links are key to predicting future CH4 emissions in a rapidly changing world. © 2022 The Authors