By Dylan Stuart Cunningham, Douglas C. Braun, Jonathan W. Moore and Amanda Mary Martens
Freshwater ecosystems that support juvenile salmonids can be degraded by human pressures such as forestry. Forestry activities can alter water temperatures and the delivery and storage of water, nutrients, wood, and sediment in streams, resulting in changes to the habitat, growth, and survival of juvenile salmon. Previous research on forestry impacts on habitat has focused on small, intensively monitored coastal systems. Here we examined forestry impacts, watershed characteristics, physical habitat, and stream temperature for 28 midsized tributaries of the North Thompson River to examine relationships between forestry and juvenile coho stream habitat in interior watersheds. Forest harvest had a positive correlation to maximum summer stream temperature. Streams with 35% of the riparian area harvested since 1970 had maximum summer temperatures 3.7°C higher on average than those with 5% harvested. Stream gradient explained most of the variation in physical habitat and had negative correlations to pool cover, pool depth, and fine sediment cover. Taken together, these results indicate that watershed characteristics drive physical habitat, but forestry harvest can be a primary driver of water temperatures.
Download study in PDF format: (2023) Forestry influences on salmonid habitat in the North Thompson River Watershed, British Columbia.pdf