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Factors affecting seasonal variation of methane concentration in water in a freshwater marsh vegetated with Carex lasiocarpa

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To understand the underlying factors affecting the seasonal variation of the methane concentration in a cool temperate freshwater marsh vegetated with Carex lasiocarpa in the Sanjiang Plain of northeast China, we measured methane emission from, and the concentrations of methane, dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and acetate in, water samples taken from the standing water surface to the top of the gley soil layer in the C. laisocarpa marsh, before and after plants were covered with a black cloth at the three growing stages of June, July and August 2002. The methane oxidation rate was also measured in situ by applying acetylene, a methane oxidation inhibitor, to whole plants, and the methane production rate in water sampled in June and July was measured via the anaerobic incubation in the laboratory. The methane production rate in water samples was significantly correlated with acetate concentration rather than DOC concentration, whereas the mean acetate concentration in water samples was higher in June than in July and August. Hence, the low methane concentration in June did not result from a lack of acetate for methane production. The mean methane and DOC concentrations in water samples were enhanced by 22.3 and 31.1% in June, 2.1 and 5.0% in July, and 3.4 and 15.2% in August, respectively, after plants were covered with a black cloth. The methane oxidation rate and redox potential in the freshwater marsh decreased from June to July or August. These results suggest that there was more oxygen in the rhizome and rhizosphere in June than in July and August, which not only accentuated methane oxidation but also reduced methane production. Therefore, the high methane concentration in water in July and August could be ascribed to both an increase in temperature and a decrease in redox potential or oxygen concentration in the rhizosphere.

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