Function and dynamics of woody debris in boreal forest streams

Sammanfattning: The work in this thesis deals with (1) the effects of woody debris on stream channel morphology and retention of organic material, and (2) the dynamics of woody debris and its relation to riparian forest history and composition. The studied stream reaches are situated in mature, productive forests in the boreal zone of Sweden.Wood variables were important predictors of the frequency of debris dams, pool area, the proportion of pools formed by wood, and variation in the bankfull channel width. Pools formed by woody debris were mainly created by damming and had larger surface areas and residual depths than pools formed by other agents. Stream reaches intersecting old-growth forest (with minor influence of forest management) had coarser and longer woody debris pieces, greater amounts of wood, more debris dams, and wood-formed pools compared to streams surrounded by forests influenced by selective logging.The influence of past forest management on the quality and quantity of woody debris in streams were analyzed by using dendrochrnological methods. Selective loggings and absence of forest fires after 1831 resulted in lower input rates and a gradual replacement of pine by sruce over time. Residence times in stream channels of woody debris (>10 cm in basal diameter) were long and the oldest dated pieces of pine and spruce were over 300 and 100 years, respectively.Dynamics of woody debris were explored by comparing wood volumes and characteristics between stream channels and their riparianforests and between old growth and managed sites. Wood volumes recorded in the stream channels exceeded, but were related to, the volumes found in the riparian forests. Limited input of woody debris by bank cutting and absence of slope processes suggest that recruitment processes of woody debri to stream channels are similar as in riparian forests and slow decay in channels results in greater volumes.The retentiveness of organic material in stream channels was examined by using release and capture experiments in multiple reaces during varying discharges using different sizes of leaf mimics. Sixty eight percent of the variation in retention was explained by a multiple regression model including discharge and leaf mimic siz. Between 44 and 80% of the variation in retention among reaches was explained by channel constraint, gravel coverage, and woody debris variables as the most important. Estimates from a partial least squares (PLS) model suggest an increase in mean transport distances by 22 to 53% in managed forest streams compared to old growth conditions and in a low wood scenario, mean transport distances increased by 38 to 99% with larger increases for higher discharges and larger particle sizes.To regain more pristine conditions of stream channels, management and restoration are needed to increase the amount of woody debris that recreates lost channel structures and increaes the retention of organic material.