Advances in Understanding Landscape Influences on Freshwater Habitats and Biological Assemblages

Influences of Local and Landscape Characteristics, Including Past Timber Harvest Practices, on Large Wood in Streams Draining Young-Growth Southeast Alaska Catchments

Jared A. Ross, Dana M. Infante, Douglas J. Martin, Arthur R. Cooper, and Kyle Herreman


Abstract.—Currently, much is known about influences of landscape attributes, including timber harvest practices, on large wood dynamics in streams. Comparatively, much less is known about influences of catchment attributes on Southeast Alaska streams, in part because of a historical lack of consistent catchment-scale data available for the region. As in forested regions elsewhere, large wood is an important resource to stream habitats and fishes in Southeast Alaska. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to characterize catchment-scale influences, including various timber harvest practices, on large wood in Southeast Alaska stream sites. We delineated local catchment boundaries for all stream reaches in the region and summarized landscape influences, including natural and harvest-related attributes in local and network catchments. Relative amounts of variation in four large wood habitat variables explained by natural versus harvest practice-related landscape attributes were evaluated to compare different influences on 28 randomly selected study sites. We used those results to predict variation in large wood variables from our sites through use of both natural and harvest practice-related catchment attributes to identify those that may be most influential to large wood. Natural characteristics, including catchment area, deciduous forests, forested wetlands, and catchment slope, all had significant influences on large wood variables, as did various measures of contemporary and historical timber harvest practices. We found that large wood length was positively related to conventional harvest after 1990, suggesting the potential effectiveness of contemporary logging regulations in protecting large wood characteristics. In our study, both natural and timber harvest practice-related attributes had measureable influences on stream habitat, underscoring the importance of considering catchment-scale attributes, including riparian management schemes, for managing Southeast Alaska streams.