Factors influencing wood mobilization in streams

Eric Merten, Jacques Finlay, Lucinda Johnson, Raymond Newman, Heinz Stefan, Bruce Vondracek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations

Abstract

Natural pieces of wood provide a variety of ecosystem functions in streams including habitat, organic matter retention, increased hyporheic exchange and transient storage, and enhanced hydraulic and geomorphic heterogeneity. Wood mobilization is a critical process in determining the residence time of wood. We documented the characteristics and locations of 865 natural wood pieces (>0.05 m in diameter for a portion >1 m in length) in nine streams along the north shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota. We determined the locations of the pieces again after an overbank stormflow event to determine the factors that influenced mobilization of stationary wood pieces in natural streams. Seven of 11 potential predictor variables were identified with multiple logistic regression as significant to mobilization: burial, effective depth, ratio of piece length to effective stream width (length ratio), bracing, rootwad presence, downstream force ratio, and draft ratio. The final model (P < 0.001, r2 = 0.39) indicated that wood mobilization under natural conditions is a complex function of both mechanical factors (burial, length ratio, bracing, rootwad presence, draft ratio) and hydraulic factors (effective depth, downstream force ratio). If stable pieces are a goal for stream management then features such as partial burial, low effective depth, high length relative to channel width, bracing against other objects (e.g., stream banks, trees, rocks, or larger wood pieces), and rootwads are desirable. Using the model equation from this study, stewards of natural resources can better manage in-stream wood for the benefit of stream ecosystems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberW10514
JournalWater Resources Research
Volume46
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - 2010

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