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Forest practices affect aquatic ecosystems through changes to water quality (e.g., temperature, sedimentation) although the mechanisms by which these occur is not well understood. This paper, therefore, examines the biophysical structuring of aquatic habitats in riparian ecosystems as they are affected by forest practices. Specifically, the efficacy of riparian reserve zones were examined as they relate to stream biodiversity, productivity, and hydraulic habitats. The results of a series of experimental and statistical evaluations reveal that riparian reserve zones provide some short-term mitigation to aquatic processes, as they are intermediate in their severity compared to streams that have been clear cut. Regardless, evidence of forestry impacts on aquatic processes remain, and are influenced by the quality of the riparian reserve. Long-term changes to streambeds, even in the presence of riparian reserve zones, are predicted to alter stream productivity and biodiversity. The forestry industry should consider these points and reevaluate the role and examine the efficacy of riparian buffer strips in the mitigation of forest practices.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 2000

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