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Nauer, P.; et al. (2018): Termite mounds mitigate half of termite methane emissions

Nauer, P.; Hutley, L.; Arndt, S. (2018): Termite mounds mitigate half of termite methane emissions. In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1809790115.

"Termites are important decomposers of plant material in tropical ecosystems, and thereby produce globally significant amounts of the greenhouse gas CH4. Here, we provide a mechanistic understanding of CH4 turnover in termite mounds to fill a long-standing knowledge gap. Using field measurements, we show that termite mounds oxidize, on average, half of the CH4 produced by termites before emission. This “hidden” biofilter mechanism is mediated by methanotrophic bacteria living in the mound walls or the soil beneath, for which internal termite-mound structures can facilitate CH4 transport. Process links within the mound stabilize the filter efficiency. Moreover, we estimate undisturbed termite biomass via CH4 emissions. This knowledge is crucial to reduce uncertainty in global termite-derived CH4 emissions."

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