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Rates and Controls of Greenhouse Gas Fluxes in the Great Basin, USA
AdvisorSullivan, Benjamin W.
Environmental and Natural Resource Sciences
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Soils are important sources and sinks of methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O), two greenhouse gases with global warming potentials 30 and 300 times greater than carbon dioxide, respectively. However, soil CH4 and N2O fluxes in arid and semiarid ecosystems are understudied relative to land cover, creating gaps in our understanding that challenge global estimates of terrestrial sources and sinks. Here, I measured CH4 and N2O fluxes with the goal of improving estimates of these fluxes in the Great Basin. Four of the five ecosystems in which I measured soil CH4 uptake were significant sinks of CH4 over the course of a year, but the mechanistic reasons for these fluxes varied among sites. Unlike a recent discovery in tropical ecosystems, ant nests in the Great Basin do not appear to be significant sources of N2O despite having significantly higher pools of soil inorganic nitrogen. My results highlight the differences (and some similarities) between the Great Basin and other, more mesic, ecosystems.