Invasive Spartina alterniflora changes the Yangtze Estuary salt marsh from CH4 sink to source

Bin Yang, Xiuzhen Li*, Shiwei Lin, Can Jiang, Liming Xue, Jiangjing Wang, Xiaotong Liu, Mikk Espenberg, Jaan Pärn, Ülo Mander

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Expansion of Spartina alterniflora salt marshes in the East China Sea coast is changing the ecosystem and thus, uncertainty has hampered methane (CH4) flux accounts in these areas. To analyse seasonal and diurnal patterns of the CH4 fluxes and their relationship with environmental factors, four plots were established in a salt marsh of the Nanhui coast in the southern fringe of the Yangtze River estuary, differing in sediment salinity and vegetation history and including one bare mudflat. Monthly studies from March 2017 to January 2018 using a chamber technique showed that CH4 fluxes from the plots ranged from −1.7 to 72.2 mg m−2 h−1. The mature Spartina sites showed higher CH4 emission, peaking in the summer. In the mudflat CH4 consumption was observed in January and the summer. The seasonal CH4 fluxes showed positive correlation (p < 0.05) with temperature, and plant development (height of vegetation), and negative correlation (p < 0.05) with water salinity. Various diurnal cycles in the CH4 fluxes were observed at different seasons. Average CH4 emissions were higher during the daytime than at night, however, without significant difference. Thus, the CH4 fluxes started to rise at noon, and the maximum CH4 flux was observed after the ebb tide (at 18:00) during nighttime. The diurnal variation in CH4 fluxes showed a significant correlation with season but not with temperature.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107258
Number of pages8
JournalEstuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science
Early online date15 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - 5 May 2021

Bibliographical note

The research was supported by the National Key R&D Program of China (2017YFC0506000 and 2016YFE0133700), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41671463), the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities, the State Key Lab of Estuarine and Coastal Research (SKLEC-DWJS201802), the 111 Project (BP0820020), Ministry of Education, China, East China Normal University (“Ecology+” project and Scholarship Program for Graduate Students—Short-term overseas research scholarship), the Ministry of Education and Research of Estonia (grants IUT2-16, PRG-352 and MOBERC20), and through the European Regional Development Fund (Centres of Excellence ENVIRON and EcolChange, and the MOBTP101 returning researcher grant by the Mobilitas+ programme). We thank the two anonymous reviewers for their constructive suggestions that had improved this paper substantially. We also greatly appreciate the efforts of Lei Meng and Qiuyao Liang in conducting field and laboratory work.


  • Atlantic cordgrass
  • Diurnal variation
  • Environmental factors
  • Methane
  • Tidal salt marsh


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