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PLoS One. 2013 Aug 7;8(8):e71454. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0071454. Print 2013.

Quantifying beetle-mediated effects on gas fluxes from dung pats.

Author information

1
Department of Agricultural Sciences, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.

Abstract

Agriculture is one of the largest contributors of the anthropogenic greenhouse gases (GHGs) responsible for global warming. Measurements of gas fluxes from dung pats suggest that dung is a source of GHGs, but whether these emissions are modified by arthropods has not been studied. A closed chamber system was used to measure the fluxes of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) from dung pats with and without dung beetles on a grass sward. The presence of dung beetles significantly affected the fluxes of GHGs from dung pats. Most importantly, fresh dung pats emitted higher amounts of CO2 and lower amounts of CH4 per day in the presence than absence of beetles. Emissions of N2O showed a distinct peak three weeks after the start of the experiment--a pattern detected only in the presence of beetles. When summed over the main grazing season (June-July), total emissions of CH4 proved significantly lower, and total emissions of N2O significantly higher in the presence than absence of beetles. While clearly conditional on the experimental conditions, the patterns observed here reveal a potential impact of dung beetles on gas fluxes realized at a small spatial scale, and thereby suggest that arthropods may have an overall effect on gas fluxes from agriculture. Dissecting the exact mechanisms behind these effects, mapping out the range of conditions under which they occur, and quantifying effect sizes under variable environmental conditions emerge as key priorities for further research.

PMID:
23940758
PMCID:
PMC3737124
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0071454
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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