- •Vascular wetland plants may substantially increase methane emissions by producing root exudates and easily degradable litter, and by providing a low-resistance diffusion pathway via their aerenchyma. However, model studies have indicated that vascular plants can reduce methane emission when soil oxygen demand is exceeded by oxygen released from roots. Here, we tested whether these conditions occur in bogs dominated by cushion plants.
- •Root–methane interactions were studied by comparing methane emissions, stock and oxygen availability in depth profiles below lawns of either cushion plants or Sphagnum mosses in Patagonia.
- •Cushion plants, Astelia pumila and Donatia fascicularis, formed extensive root systems up to 120 cm in depth. The cold soil (< 10°C) and highly decomposed peat resulted in low microbial activity and oxygen consumption. In cushion plant lawns, high soil oxygen coincided with high root densities, but methane emissions were absent. In Sphagnum lawns, methane emissions were substantial. High methane concentrations were only found in soils without cushion plant roots.
- •This first methane study in Patagonian bog vegetation reveals lower emissions than expected. We conclude that cushion plants are capable of reducing methane emission on an ecosystem scale by thorough soil and methane oxidation.