Heat-wave effects on greenhouse gas emissions from shallow lake mesocosms

ArticleinFreshwater Biology · April 2017with338 Reads
DOI: 10.1111/fwb.12930
Shallow lakes are a key component of the global carbon cycle. It is, therefore, important to know how shallow lake ecosystems will respond to the current climate change. Global warming affects not only average temperatures, but also the frequency of heat waves (HW). The impact of extreme events on ecosystems processes, particularly greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, is uncertain. Using the world's longest-running shallow lake experiment, we studied the effects of a simulated summer HW on the fluxes of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O). The experimental mesocosms had been exposed to different temperature treatments and nutrient loading for 11 years prior to the artificial HW. In general, there was an increase in total GHG emissions during the 1-month artificial HW, with a significant increase in CO2, CH4 and N2O being observed in the shallow lake mesocosms. No significant effect of the HW on CO2 emissions could be traced, though, in the mesocosms with high nutrient levels. Furthermore, the data suggested that in addition to the direct effect of increased temperature on metabolic processes during the HW, biotic interactions exerted a significant control of GHG emissions. For example, at low nutrient levels, increased CO2 emissions were associated with low macrophyte abundance, whereas at high nutrient levels, decreased phytoplankton abundance was linked to increased emissions of CO2 and CH4. In contrast to the observable heat-wave effect, no clear general effect of the long-term temperature treatments could be discerned over the summer, likely because the potential effects of the moderate temperature increase, applied as a press disturbance, were overridden by biotic interactions. This study demonstrates that the role of biotic interactions needs to be considered within the context of global warming on ecosystem processes.

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