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Effects of Timber Harvesting on Dissolved Oxygen in a Northern Louisiana Headwater Stream

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Many headwaters in Louisiana have low concentrations of dissolved oxygen (DO) and there is a concern that timber harvesting can further decrease these concentrations. This study was conducted to examine the direct and long-term effect of timber harvest on DO in a low-gradient headwater stream in north-central Louisiana, USA. Water quality multisensor probes were deployed at two locations along a second-order stream, approximately 500 m apart. DO concentration and saturation were recorded at 15-minute intervals from 2006 to 2010. In addition, monthly site visits were conducted for streamflow measurement and water sample collection for biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) and total carbon (TC) analyses. In late summer 2007, a 45-ha loblolly pine stand between the two locations was clearcut, which allowed data analysis in a before-after and above-below control design. At the upstream site (control), concentrations of DO, BOD, and TC averaged 2.3, 1.3, and 26.5 mg L−1, respectively. DO concentrations were mostly (83% of measurements) less than 1 mg L−1 during the summer and were frequently (33% of measurements) less than 2 mg L−1 during the winter. After the harvest, BOD and TC at the downstream site were significantly higher than those at the upstream site (paired t-tests; P < 0.01; df = 37 and 32, respectively), whereas water temperature at the downstream site increased only slightly (0.9° C). However, these changes did not lower DO under a range of flow conditions. After harvest, DO concentrations were significantly higher at the downstream site during both summer and winter (paired t-tests; P < 0.001; df = 126 and 313, respectively). The DO increase may have resulted from increased streamflow due to reduced evapotranspiration at the harvested site. Even with the harvest-induced DO increases, concentrations at both sites continued to fall below the Environmental Protection Agency-recommended 5-mg L−1 limit for greater than 70% of measurements, challenging the attainability of the current water quality standard.

Keywords: best management practices; dissolved oxygen; dissolved oxygen standard; forestry; stream; total maximum daily load; water quality

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2013-04-16

More about this publication?
  • Forest Science is a peer-reviewed journal publishing fundamental and applied research that explores all aspects of natural and social sciences as they apply to the function and management of the forested ecosystems of the world. Topics include silviculture, forest management, biometrics, economics, entomology & pathology, fire & fuels management, forest ecology, genetics & tree improvement, geospatial technologies, harvesting & utilization, landscape ecology, operations research, forest policy, physiology, recreation, social sciences, soils & hydrology, and wildlife management.
    Forest Science is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December.

    2015 Impact Factor: 1.702
    Ranking: 16 of 66 in forestry

    Also published by SAF:
    Journal of Forestry
    Other SAF Publications
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