Effects of Invasive Phragmites australis and Typha x glauca on Methane Emissions in a Southeastern Michigan Freshwater Wetland

Susannah Iott
Eastern Michigan Univeristy: Biology Department
Susannah Iott is a graduate student working on her Masters of Science in Biology with an ecology, evolution, and organismal biology focus at Eastern Michigan University. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Hawaii at Manoa in Botany in 2006. After graduating, she worked professionally for 7 years in ecosystem restoration and invasive species control in Hawaii. She left her position there to obtain a higher degree and increase her understanding of temperate aquatic and wetland ecosystems. Susannah is now completing her second year of the Master’s program and anticipates graduating in the summer of 2016.

Wetlands are responsible for emitting 20-39% of total global methane (CH4), an important greenhouse gas that traps 24 times more heat per molecule than does CO2. Variation in wetland plant species composition may affect methane emissions by influencing the composition and activity of microorganisms producing CH4 in wetlands and by acting as conduits, via their aerenchyma, for emission from sediments to the atmosphere. This research addresses the following questions: What is the relative importance of plants as pathways for evasion of methane to the atmosphere? How do two common invasive wetland plants differ in their impacts on the flux of methane from wetlands to the atmosphere? Closed system chambers were utilized to take samples of CH4 and gas chromatography was used, with a flame ionizing detector (FID), to compare concentrations to a known standard. Preliminary results show that Typha x glauca has greater methane emissions than Phragmites australis.

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