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Mechanisms and source distances for the input of large woody debris to forested streams in British Columbia, Canada

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The geomorphic process domain concept predicts consistent associations between stream channel geomorphology and large woody debris (LWD) input mechanisms. We used synoptic surveys at 51 stream reaches adjacent to undisturbed mature or old-growth forests in central and southern British Columbia to test associations between stream geomorphology and the input processes, source distances, physical characteristics, and geomorphic functions of LWD within the bankfull channel. Standing dead tree fall was the dominant input mechanism, but bank erosion was important in low- and medium-gradient channels >3 m bankfull width. Wind-induced inputs (stem breakage and windthrow) were relatively more important in small or steep channels. LWD piece size and source distance varied among delivery processes. LWD originated at ground distances up to 65 m from the streams, but 90% of the LWD at a site originated within 18 m of the channel at 90% of the sites. Statistical models incorporating tree size and stream characteristics (bankfull width, channel type) explained 40%–64% of the variation among sites in the distances from which LWD entered streams. In general, LWD source distances increased with increasing tree height and decreased with increasing stream width; however, the strengths of these relationships were modified by channel type.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: BC Ministry of Environment, 2202 Main Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada. 2: Fluvial Systems Research Inc., 501-15216 North Bluff Road, White Rock, BC V4B 0A7, Canada. 3: BC Ministry of Forests and Range, 2202 Main Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada. 4: Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Co-operative Resource Management Institute, School of Resource and Environmental Management, Simon Fraser University, 8888 University Drive, Burnaby, BC V5A 1S6, Canada.

Publication date: 2011-11-01

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  • Published since 1971, this monthly journal features articles, reviews, notes and commentaries on all aspects of forest science, including biometrics and mensuration, conservation, disturbance, ecology, economics, entomology, fire, genetics, management, operations, pathology, physiology, policy, remote sensing, social science, soil, silviculture, wildlife and wood science, contributed by internationally respected scientists. It also publishes special issues dedicated to a topic of current interest.
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