Effects of wood removal on stream habitat and nitrate uptake in two northeastern US headwater streams

TitleEffects of wood removal on stream habitat and nitrate uptake in two northeastern US headwater streams
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsWarren, DR, Judd, KE, Bade, DL, Likens, GE, Kraft, CE
Pagination119 - 131
Date Published2013/10/01/
ISBN Number0018-8158, 1573-5117
KeywordsBACI, Debris dam, Ecology, Freshwater & Marine Ecology, Hubbard Brook, Large wood, Nitrogen cycling, Stream substrate, Zoology

Forested headwater streams play an important role in watershed nutrient dynamics, and wood is thought to be a key factor influencing habitat structure and nitrate-nitrogen dynamics in many forested streams. Because wood in streams can promote nitrogen uptake through denitrification, we hypothesized that nitrate uptake velocities would decrease following wood removal. We measured stream characteristics and nitrate uptake velocities before and after wood manipulation experiments conducted at Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest, NH, and the Sleepers River watershed, VT. The mean size of stream substrates and the amount of riffle habitat increased following wood removal. In contrast to our expectations, summer nitrate uptake velocities increased in the wood removal treatments relative to the reference treatments, possibly because wood removal increased the availability of stable substrates for periphyton growth, therefore increasing nitrate demand in these streams. Our results highlight that effects of wood on stream ecosystems occur through multiple pathways and suggest that the relative importance of these pathways may vary seasonally.

Short TitleHydrobiologia