2023-04-21Zeitschriftenartikel DOI: 10.1111/gcb.16713
The unexpected long period of elevated CH4 emissions from an inundated fen meadow ended only with the occurrence of cattail (Typha latifolia)
Drainage and agricultural use transform natural peatlands from a net carbon (C) sink to a net C source. Rewetting of peatlands, despite of high methane (CH4) emissions, holds the potential to mitigate climate change by greatly reducing CO2 emissions. However, the time span for this transition is unknown because most studies are limited to a few years. Especially, nonpermanent open water areas often created after rewetting, are highly productive. Here, we present 14 consecutive years of CH4 flux measurements following rewetting of a formerly long‐term drained peatland in the Peene valley. Measurements were made at two rewetted sites (non‐inundated vs. inundated) using manual chambers. During the study period, significant differences in measured CH4 emissions occurred. In general, these differences overlapped with stages of ecosystem transition from a cultivated grassland to a polytrophic lake dominated by emergent helophytes, but could also be additionally explained by other variables. This transition started with a rapid vegetation shift from dying cultivated grasses to open water floating and submerged hydrophytes and significantly increased CH4 emissions. Since 2008, helophytes have gradually spread from the shoreline into the open water area, especially in drier years. This process was periodically delayed by exceptional inundation and eventually resulted in the inundated site being covered by emergent helophytes. While the period between 2009 and 2015 showed exceptionally high CH4 emissions, these decreased significantly after cattail and other emergent helophytes became dominant at the inundated site. Therefore, CH4 emissions declined only after 10 years of transition following rewetting, potentially reaching a new steady state. Overall, this study highlights the importance of an integrative approach to understand the shallow lakes CH4 biogeochemistry, encompassing the entire area with its mosaic of different vegetation forms. This should be ideally done through a study design including proper measurement site allocation as well as long‐term measurements.