Spatial and temporal heterogeneity of methane ebullition in lowland headwater streams and the impact on sampling design.

Academic Article


  • Headwater streams are known sources of methane (CH4) to the atmosphere, but their contribution to global scale budgets remains poorly constrained. While efforts have been made to better understand diffusive fluxes of CH4 in streams, much less attention has been paid to ebullitive fluxes. We examine the temporal and spatial heterogeneity of CH4 ebullition from four lowland headwater streams in the temperate northeastern United States over a 2-yr period. Ebullition was observed in all monitored streams with an overall mean rate of 1.00 ± 0.23 mmol CH4 m-2 d-1, ranging from 0.01 to 1.79 to mmol CH4 m-2 d-1 across streams. At biweekly timescales, rates of ebullition tended to increase with temperature. We observed a high degree of spatial heterogeneity in CH4 ebullition within and across streams. Yet, catchment land use was not a simple predictor of this heterogeneity, and instead patches scale variability weakly explained by water depth and sediment organic matter content and quality. Overall, our results support the prevalence of CH4 ebullition from streams and high levels of variability characteristic of this process. Our findings also highlight the need for robust temporal and spatial sampling of ebullition in lotic ecosystems to account for this high level of heterogeneity, where multiple sampling locations and times are necessary to accurately represent the mean rate of flux in a stream. The heterogeneity observed likely indicates a complex set of drivers affect CH4 ebullition from streams which must be considered when upscaling site measurements to larger spatial scales.
  • Authors

  • Robison, Andrew L
  • Wollheim, Wilfred
  • Turek, Bonnie
  • Bova, Cynthia
  • Snay, Carter
  • Varner, Ruth
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • December 2021
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 4063
  • End Page

  • 4076
  • Volume

  • 66
  • Issue

  • 12