THE EFFECTS OF LAND USE ON AQUATIC METHANOGENESIS THROUGH A COMBINATION OF MOLECULAR METHODS AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF A NOVEL IN SITU METHANE SENSOR
Methane is a potent greenhouses gas and a major contributor to global warming. Approximately 40% of methane emissions occur naturally, primarily as the result of microbial decomposition of organic materials in environments with little to no oxygen, such as wetland soils or fully submerged aquatic sediments. Monitoring the emissions of microbial-derived methane in the environment is often difficult due to the financial and temporal constraints associated with an effective sampling strategy. Furthermore, natural fluctuations in methane emissions due to ecosystem dynamics (i.e. availability of organic matter, land use effects) can make it more difficult to capture baseline emission rates. With the development of a novel aquatic methane sensor, we are able to collect continuous methane emission rate data with greater spatiotemporal flexibility at a highly reduced cost than is currently available. Established molecular techniques can then be used in tandem with this emission data to examine the influence of land use on the rates of methane emission in freshwater ecosystems and on microbial communities responsible for the methane production.