Methane and nitrous oxide fluxes in relation to vegetation covers and bird activity in ice-free soils of Rip Point, Nelson Island, Antarctica
This study aimed to quantify the nitrous oxide (N2O) and methane (CH4) fluxes at sites with different vegetation covers and where bird activity was present or absent using the static chamber method, on Rip Point, Nelson Island, maritime Antarctic. The sites were soils covered by Sanionia uncinata, lichens, Prasiola crispa, Deschampsia antarctica and bare soil. Seabirds used the P. crispa and D. antarctica sites as nesting areas. Soil mineral N contents, air and soil temperature and water-filled pore space were measured, and the content of total organic C and particulate organic C, total N, bulk density and texture were determined to identify controlling variables of the gas emissions. The N2O and CH4 flux rates were low for all sampling events. Mean N2O flux rates ranged from 0.11±1.93 up to 21.25±22.14 µg N2O m−2 h−1 for the soils under lichen and P. crispa cover, respectively. For the CH4 fluxes, only the P. crispa site showed a low positive mean (0.47±3.61 µg CH4 m−2 h−1). The bare soil showed the greatest absorption of CH4 (−11.92±5.7 µg CH4 m−2 h−1), probably favoured by the coarse soil texture. Bare soil and S. uncinata sites had N2O accumulated emissions close to zero. Net CH4 accumulated emission was observed only at the P. crispa site, which was correlated with (p<0.001). These results indicate that seabird activity influences N2O and CH4 soil fluxes, while vegetation has little influence, and bare soil areas in maritime Antarctica could be greenhouse gas sinks.
Keywords: Soil greenhouse gases; seabirds; vegetal cover; maritime Antarctica.
(Published: 3 February 2015)
Citation: Polar Research 2015, 34, 23584, http://dx.doi.org/10.3402/polar.v34.23584
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Authors retain copyright of their work, with first publication rights granted to the Norwegian Polar Institute.