Ecosystem-scale methane flux in tropical peat swamp forest in Indonesia.Glob Chang Biol 2018; 24(11):5123-5136GC
Data on ecosystem-scale methane (CH4) fluxes in tropical peatlands are currently lacking in the global CH4 budget. Although the waterlogged Indonesian peatlands contain the largest share of peat carbon in South-East Asia, ecosystem-scale CH4 budgets have not yet been reported, although these peatlands have the potential to emit CH4 . We observed 1-year variations in the ecosystem-scale CH4 flux in an undrained secondary peat swamp forest in central Kalimantan, Indonesia, using the eddy covariance method. We found that the peat swamp forest switched from being a CH4 sink during the dry season (as low as -8.9 mg C m-2 day-1) to a source of CH4 during the wet season (up to 10.7 mg C m-2 day-1), and this was dependent on changes in the groundwater level (GWL). The high GWL during the wet season enhanced the anaerobic CH4 production in the surface layer that had more labile organic matter. However, the CH4 emission also increased when the GWL dropped during dry spells in the wet season. The annual CH4 budget in the studied tropical peat swamp forest (0.09-0.17 g C m-2 year-1) was much lower than that in northern, temperate, and subtropical wetlands. We found that CH4 fluxes had almost no effect on the global warming gas budget of the peat swamp forest, and values were only a few percent less than the CO2 fluxes at the same site. In addition, we conducted anaerobic soil incubation experiments to examine the effect of land-use change on CH4 production. The results indicated much higher CH4 production potential in undrained forest soil than in drained or drained and burned ex-forest soils. However, although CH4 production decreased in drained soils relative to undrained soils, conserving pristine peat swamp forests with high GWLs is important to suppress global warming because CO2 emissions increase in drained peatlands.