The Ecology and Management of Wood in World Rivers

Wood in Rivers: A Landscape Perspective

Frederick J. Swanson


Abstract.—A landscape perspective of wood in world rivers accounts for spatial and temporal patterns of sources of wood from streamside forests, processes of wood delivery to channels, transport of wood through river networks, and trapping sites of wood. Amounts of wood in a river system also depend on productivity of forests in source areas and decomposition rates. Collectively, these factors determine the amount and arrangement of individual pieces and accumulations of wood through a river network, which, in turn, affect ecological, geomorphic, social, and other features of rivers. Research to date deals with subsets of these components of wood in rivers, but there has been limited development of a general framework for wood in river networks. This chapter considers a framework for examining the arrangement of wood in river landscapes and how it may reflect the history of spatial patterns and timing of wood input and redistribution. Field studies provide examples of different spatial patterns and architectures of wood accumulations. Wood accumulations are shaped by input processes, trapping sites, and transport processes. Reaches in river networks may switch from wood patterns dominated by one set of controls to another because of gradual or abrupt input and redistribution. A framework for future studies and management includes interpretation of these different controls through time and over river networks.