Identifying linkages between land use, geomorphology, and aquatic habitat in a mixed-use watershed.
The potential impacts of land use on large woody debris (LWD) were examined in Sourdough Creek Watershed, a rapidly growing area encompassing Bozeman, Montana, USA. We identified six land classes within a 250 m buffer extending on either side of Sourdough Creek and assessed aquatic habitat and geomorphologic variables within each class. All LWD pieces were counted, and we examined 14 other variables, including undercut bank, sinuosity, and substrate composition. LWD numbers were generally low and ranged from 0 to 8.2 pieces per 50 m of stream. Linear regression showed that LWD increased with distance from headwaters, riparian forest width, and sinuosity in four of the six land classes. Statistically significant differences between land classes for many aquatic habitat and geomorphologic variables indicated the impacts of different land uses on stream structure. We also found that practices such as active wood removal played a key role in LWD abundance. This finding suggests that managers should prioritize public education and outreach concerning the importance of in-stream wood, especially in mixed-use watersheds where wood is removed for either aesthetic reasons or to prevent stream flooding.
McIlroy, SK; Montagne, C; Jones, CA; McGlynn, BL
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