Methane emissions from tree stems in neotropical peatlands

Sofie Sjögersten, Andy Siegenthaler, Omar R. Lopez, Paul Aplin, Benjamin Turner, Vincent Gauci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
160 Downloads (Pure)


Neotropical peatlands emit large amounts of methane (CH 4) from the soil surface, but fluxes from tree stems in these ecosystems are unknown. In this study we investigated CH 4 emissions from five tree species in two forest types common to neotropical lowland peatlands in Panama. Methane from tree stems accounted for up to 30% of net ecosystem CH 4 emissions. Peak CH 4 fluxes were greater during the wet season when the water table was high and temperatures were lower. Emissions were greatest from the hardwood tree Campnosperma panamensis, but most species acted as emitters, with emissions declining exponentially with height along the stem for all species. Overall, species identity, stem diameter, water level, soil temperature and soil CH 4 fluxes explained 54% of the variance in stem CH 4 emissions from individual trees. On the landscape level, On the landscape level, the high emissions from C. panamensis forests resulted in that they emitted at 340 kg CH 4 d −1 during flooded periods despite their substantially lower areal cover. We conclude that emission from tree stems is an important emission pathway for CH 4 flux from Neotropical peatlands, and that these emissions vary strongly with season and forest type.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)769-781
Number of pages13
JournalNew Phytologist
Issue number2
Early online date8 Sept 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020

Bibliographical note

© 2019 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2019 New Phytologist Trust.


  • greenhouse gases
  • methane
  • neotropics
  • peatlands
  • tree emissions
  • tree species
  • tropical forest

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science


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