Littoral and shoreline wood in mid-continent Great Rivers (USA)

Ted R. Angradi, Debra L. Taylor, Terri M. Jicha, David W. Bolgrien, Mark S. Pearson, Brian H. Hill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Woody debris has several important roles in running water. Less is known about the ecology of wood in great rivers than in smaller rivers and streams. We used a probability survey to estimate the abundance of littoral and shoreline wood along the following mid-continent great rivers of the United States in summer 2004-2006: the Missouri River, Upper Mississippi River, and the Ohio River. We counted wood pieces >0.3 m in diameter from a zone between the bank full level out into the river 10m. We categorized wood according to its origin and function as "beached" (transported from upriver but not providing aquatic habitat), "wet" (origin unknown and providing aquatic habitat; includes snags), or "anchored" (attached to the bank at its current location and providing aquatic habitat). We counted 5900 pieces of wood at 447 sites across rivers. Approximately 56 percent of pieces were beached, 30 percent were wet, and 14 percent were anchored. Overall, mean abundance of wood was 2.6 pieces of wood 100 m-1 of shoreline (approximately 3.0m3 100m-1). Abundance of wood (pieces per unit distance of river) was much lower than has been reported for many smaller streams and rivers. There was more wood along the Upper Mississippi River (3.3 pieces 100m-1) than elsewhere (≤2.4 pieces 100m-1). The mean abundance of wood on the Ohio River decreased significantly between the 2004 and 2005 survey periods due to high flows. Longitudinal patterns in wood abundance were weak. There was less anchored and wet wood along shorelines protected by revetment (e.g., rip rap). There was generally more wood along shorelines where the riparian land use was characterized as forest rather than agriculture or developed. Mean abundance of wood along forested, un-revetted shorelines was approximately four pieces 100 m 1 of shoreline (1/4 80 pieces km 1 of river). This estimate of mean wood abundance for what amounts to least disturbed riparian and shoreline conditions is relevant for great river bioassessment and management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)261-278
Number of pages18
JournalRiver Research and Applications
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2010


  • Great River
  • Land use
  • Mississippi River
  • Missouri River
  • Ohio River
  • Riparian
  • Snags
  • Wood


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