Effects of large woody debris addition on stream habitat and brook trout populations in Appalachian streams

  • Sweka J
  • Hartman K
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Abstract

Large woody debris (LWD) was added to eight streams in the central Appalachians of West Virginia to determine if stream habitat could be enhanced and brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) populations increased. Brook trout populations were assessed one year prior to habitat manipulation and 3 years post-habitat manipulation. LWD was added by felling approximately 15 trees per 300 m stream reach. Four of the streams had LWD added to one 300 m reach with 300 m unmanipulated reaches upstream and downstream of the manipulated reach to observe within-stream effects of LWD additions on brook trout density. The remaining four streams had LWD added to three 300 m reaches and these streams were compared to those with only a single 300 m manipulated reach to observe the effects of the extent of habitat manipulation on brook trout density. New pools were formed by the addition of LWD, but overall pool area did not increase significantly in reaches where LWD was added. The relatively high gradient and coarse substrate of these streams may have precluded the added LWD from having a significant influence on stream channel morphology and habitat complexity. No pools were formed in the highest gradient stream, while the stream with the most pools formed had the lowest gradient. Brook trout populations fluctuated following habitat manipulations, and there was no overall effect of the LWD additions on within-stream variability in brook trout density. When there were significant differences among-streams with different extents of LWD additions, those streams receiving LWD additions over a large extent had the greatest brook trout densities. The full potential of added LWD to change stream habitat and influence on brook trout populations may take more time to develop than the 3 years post-manipulation period of this study. © Springer 2006.

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Authors

  • J A Sweka

  • K J Hartman

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