The Ecology and Management of Wood in World Rivers

Wood and Wildlife: Benefits of River Wood to Terrestrial and Aquatic Vertebrates

E. Ashley Steel, William H. Richards, and Kathryn A. Kelsey


Abstract.—Wood in rivers, or wood deposited from fluvial processes, provides unique habitat for terrestrial and aquatic wildlife species. Many wildlife species utilize riparian areas for some portion of their life history primarily due to the universal need for water, the presence of unique plant assemblages, and the diversity of microhabitats produced by the dynamics of river systems. Wood in rivers provides four primary functions for aquatic and terrestrial wildlife species: habitat structure, shelter, patchiness of habitat, and increased food resources. Abundance and diversity of wildlife species are enhanced by wood in rivers, and they, in turn, shape and maintain aquatic and riparian habitats. Though there is a clear link between wood in rivers and riparian wildlife communities, knowledge about their interactions and interdependence is sparse.