Invasive Species Compendium

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Abstract

CO2 and CH4 budgets and global warming potential modifications in Sphagnum-dominated peat mesocosms invaded by Molinia caerulea.

Abstract

Plant communities play a key role in regulating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in peatland ecosystems and therefore in their ability to act as carbon (C) sinks. However, in response to global change, a shift from Sphagnum-dominated to vascular-plant-dominated peatlands may occur, with a potential alteration in their C-sink function. To investigate how the main GHG fluxes (CO2 and CH4) are affected by a plant community change (shift from dominance of Sphagnum mosses to vascular plants, i.e., Molinia caerulea), a mesocosm experiment was set up. Gross primary production (GPP), ecosystem respiration (ER) and CH4 emission models were used to estimate the annual C balance and global warming potential under both vegetation covers. While the ER and CH4 emission models estimated an output of, respectively, 376 ± 108 and 7 ± 4 gCm-2 yr-1 in Sphagnum mesocosms, this reached 1018 ± 362 and 33 ± 8 gCm-2 yr-1 in mesocosms with Sphagnum rubellum and Molinia caerulea. Annual modeled GPP was estimated at -414± 122 and -1273 ± 482 gCm-2 yr-1 in Sphagnum and Sphagnum + Molinia plots, respectively, leading to an annual CO2 and CH4 budget of -30 gCm-2 yr-1 in Sphagnum plots and of -223 gCm-2 yr-1 in Sphagnum + Molinia ones (i.e., a C sink). Even if CH4 emissions accounted for a small part of the gaseous C efflux (ca. 3%), their global warming potential value makes both plant communities have a climate warming effect. The shift of vegetation from Sphagnum mosses to Molinia caerulea seems beneficial for C sequestration at a gaseous level. However, roots and litter of Molinia caerulea could provide substrates for C emissions that were not taken into account in the short measurement period studied here.