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Linkages between streams and riparian vegetation at increasing in time-since-fire in western Montana watersheds

Author(s): Elaine Kennedy Sutherland, Michael K. Young, Ethan Mace, Robert S. Ahl
Year Published: 2002

Succession in upland vegetation following fire is well studied, yet the concurrent changes in riparian zones and streams have received little attention. Our objective was to examine variation in riparian and stream characteristics in three headwaters basins of the Bitterroot River in western Montana in summer 2001. These watersheds underwent stand-replacing fires in different years: Sheephead Creek in 1895, Martin in 1961, and Chicken in 2000. We censused in-channel coarse woody debris (CWD; pieces >1 m long and >10 cm in diameter) in a single 4- or 8-km reach in each stream, and estimated other variables at systematic intervals. Linkages between CWD abundance within the bankfull channel and in the riparian zone were inconsistent. Correlations between these abundance estimates were significant in Sheephead Creek (r2= 0.54, P <0.001), but not in Chicken Creek (r2= 0.06, P = 0.33). Moreover, counts of riparian trees were not correlated with either variable in Chicken Creek (r2< 0.11, P >0.002). In no stream was gradient significantly correlated with CWD abundance (r2<0.0, P >0.95). Furthermore, the high spatial variance in CWD abundance appears to preclude the selection of reaches representative of its abundance, despite such approaches in many previous studies.

Citation: Sutherland, Elaine Kennedy; Young, Michael; Mace, Ethan; Ahl, Robert. 2002. Linkages between streams and riparian vegetation at increasing in time-since-fire in western Montana watersheds, abstract. In: Ecological Society of America 87th Annual Meeting and Society of Ecological Restoration 14th Annual International Conference.
Topic(s): Fire Effects, Ecological - Second Order, Water
Ecosystem(s): Riparian woodland/shrubland
Document Type: Conference Proceedings
NRFSN number: 11042
FRAMES RCS number: 8224
Record updated: Jan 17, 2014