In Part 1 of this two-part series, Hale and McDonnell (2016) showed that bedrock permeability controlled base flow mean transit times (MTTs) and MTT scaling relations across two different catchment geologies in western Oregon. This paper presents a process-based investigation of storage and release in the more permeable catchments to explain the longer MTTs and (catchment) area-dependent scaling. Our field-based study includes hydrometric, MTT, and groundwater dating to better understand the role of subsurface catchment storage in setting base flow MTTs. We show that base flow MTTs were controlled by a mixture of water from discrete storage zones: (1) soil, (2) shallow hillslope bedrock, (3) deep hillslope bedrock, (4) surficial alluvial plain, and (5) suballuvial bedrock. We hypothesize that the relative contributions from each component change with catchment area. Our results indicate that the positive MTT-area scaling relationship observed in Part 1 is a result of older, longer flow path water from the suballuvial zone becoming a larger proportion of streamflow in a downstream direction (i.e., with increasing catchment area). Our work suggests that the subsurface permeability structure represents the most basic control on how subsurface water is stored and therefore is perhaps the best direct predictor of base flow MTT (i.e., better than previously derived morphometric-based predictors). Our discrete storage zone concept is a process explanation
for the observed scaling behavior of Hale and McDonnell (2016), thereby linking patterns and processes at scales from 0.1 to 100 km2.
Land use and climate change occur simultaneously around the globe. Fully understanding their separate and combined effects requires a mechanistic understanding at the local scale where their effects are ultimately realized. Here we applied an individual-based model of fish population dynamics to evaluate the role of local stream variability in modifying responses of Coastal Cutthroat Trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii clarkii) to scenarios simulating identical changes in temperature and stream flows linked to forest harvest, climate change, and their combined effects over six decades. We parameterized the model for four neighboring streams located in a forested headwater catchment in northwestern Oregon, USA with multi-year, daily measurements of stream temperature, flow, and turbidity (2007– 2011), and field measurements of both instream habitat structure and three years of annual trout population estimates. Model simulations revealed that variability in habitat conditions
among streams (depth, available habitat) mediated the effects of forest harvest and climate change. Net effects for most simulated trout responses were different from or less than the sum of their separate scenarios. In some cases, forest harvest countered the effects of climate change through increased summer flow. Climate change most strongly influenced trout (earlier fry emergence, reductions in biomass of older trout, increased biomass of young-of-year), but these changes did not consistently translate into reductions in biomass over time. Forest harvest, in contrast, produced fewer and less consistent responses in trout. Earlier fry emergence driven by climate change was the most consistent simulated response, whereas survival, growth, and biomass were inconsistent. Overall our findings indicate a host of local processes can strongly influence how populations respond to broad scale effects of land use and climate change.
Piscivory by birds can be significant, particularly on fish in small streams and during seasonal low flow when available cover from predators can be limited. Yet, how varying amounts of cover may change the extent of predation mortality from avian predators on fish is not clear. We evaluated size-selective survival of coastal cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii clarkii) in replicated semi-natural stream sections. These sections provided high (0.01 m2 of cover per m2 of stream) or low (0.002 m2 of cover per m2 of stream) levels of instream cover available to trout and were closed to emigration. Each fish was individually tagged, allowing us to track retention of individuals during the course of the 36-day experiment, which we attributed to survival from predators, because fish had no other way to leave the streams. Although other avian predators may have been active in our system and not detected, the only predator observed was the belted kingfisher Megaceryle alcyon, which is known to prey heavily on fish. In both treatments, trout >20.4 cm were not preyed upon indicating an increased ability to prey upon on smaller individuals. Increased availability of cover improved survival of trout by 12% in high relative to low cover
stream sections. Trout also survived better in stream sections with greater shade, a factor we could not control in our system. Collectively, these findings indicate that instream cover and shade from avian predators can play an important role in driving survival of fish in small streams or during periods of low flow.
The importance of multiple processes and instream factors to aquatic biota has been explored extensively, but questions remain about how local spatiotemporal variability of aquatic biota is tied to environmental regimes and the geophysical template of streams. We used an individual-based trout model to explore the relative role of the geophysical template versus environmental regimes on biomass of trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii clarkii). We parameterized the model with observed data from each of the four headwater streams (their local geophysical template and environmental regime) and then ran 12 simulations where we replaced environmental regimes (stream temperature, flow, turbidity) of a given stream with values from each neighboring stream while keeping the geophysical template fixed. We also performed single-parameter sensitivity analyses on the model results from each of the four streams. Although our modeled findings show that trout biomass is most responsive to changes in the geophysical template of streams, they also reveal that biomass is restricted by available habitat during seasonal low flow, which is a product of both the stream’s geophysical template and flow regime. Our modeled results suggest that differences in the geophysical template among streams render trout more or less sensitive to environmental change, emphasizing the importance of local fish–habitat relationships in streams.
We investigated the effect of contemporary forest harvesting practices on warm-season thermal regimes of headwater streams using a Before-After-Control-Intervention (BACI) design within a nested, paired watershed study. We applied harvesting treatments to four headwater tributaries of Hinkle Creek, designed in accordance with the Oregon Forest Practices Act. Therefore, fixed-width buffer strips containing overstory merchantable trees were not left adjacent to the four non-fish-bearing streams. The summer following harvesting, we observed a variable temperature response across the four harvested streams. Mean maximum daily stream temperatures ranged from 1.5 C cooler to 1.0 C warmer relative to pre-harvest years. We also observed significantly lower minimum and mean daily stream temperatures, and recorded particularly low temperatures in treatment streams on days that minimum stream temperatures in reference streams were high. At the watershed scale, we did not observe cumulative stream temperature effects related to harvesting 14% of the watershed area in multiple, spatially-distributed harvest units across four headwater catchments. At the watershed outlet, we observed no change to maximum, mean, or minimum daily stream temperatures. We attribute the lack of consistent temperature increases in headwater streams to shading provided by a layer of logging slash that deposited over the streams during harvesting, and to increased summer baseflows.
Relationships between resident cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii clarkii) and six hydrologic indices were investigated using correlation analysis in two experimental headwater catchments in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains of western Oregon. This investigation was to determine if characteristics of discharge explained inter-annual variability in trout abundance. Eight years of continuous discharge and annual abundance data collected from two contiguous watersheds from the Hinkle Creek Paired Watershed Study were used for this study. Density-discharge relationships were identified separately in the watershed actively managed for timber harvest and in the control watershed. Correlation was determined at multiple stream segments and at the watershed scale to assess the roles of spatial scale and network location on the detectability of density-discharge relationships. A method for improving the spatial coupling of density and discharge measurements within the stream network was also investigated. No correlations (r ≤ ǀ0.50ǀ) between hydrologic indices and age-1+ trout density in either watershed were found. Two hydrologic indices were related to the density of age-0 trout: maximum annual discharge (r = 0.780) in the control watershed and Q90 summer discharge (r = 0.697) in the treated watershed. The correlation between the density of age-0 trout and each of these two indices were similar across individual stream segments, but variability in the magnitude of the...
Road-related turbidity and suspended sediments is a concern for both commonly occurring and higher magnitude storm events with the potential to negatively affect in-stream biota. Here, we present preliminary results that address whether forest road crossings deliver fine sediments into streams. Specifically, we evaluate evidence of sediment routing before/after road interventions (including new roads and road upgrades - surfacing with gravel) and above/below road crossing within forest harvest units. We hypothesize that newly constructed and upgraded roads will increase turbidity and suspended sediments where roads have hydrologic connections to streams. This response will be heightened during high intensity precipitation. We measured suspended sediment and turbidity above and below road crossing and before (June 2010-Apr 2011) and after (July 2011-June-2012) road upgrades using ISCO samplers in five headwater streams from small-sized watersheds (5-36 ha). We complemented this information with available data from hydrology (four flume stations) and precipitation (two climate stations) during the same time periods. We examined statistical differences of in-stream turbidity and concentrations of suspended sediments below and above road crossing and characterized the behavior of sites before and after road upgrades.
The original Alsea Basin Logging and Aquatic Resources Study (1959-1973) was established in response to public and legislative concerns about the impact of timber harvesting and road construction on salmon. It was the first paired watershed study in North America to document these impacts. The study design utilized one watershed (Flynn Creek) as an untreated control for the duration of the study. Deer Creek was roaded and harvested with three small patch clearcuts covering about 25% of the basin. Harvest boundaries were kept 50 feet or more from the stream banks. The small clearcuts received a light slash fire following logging. Needle Branch was roaded and completely clearcut without stream protection buffers and, following logging, was burned with a very hot slash fire and channel cleaned of debris, which typified the logging practices of the day. Before and after treatments, streamflow, water quality and aquatic resources were carefully monitored on all three watersheds. Changes in streamflow, water quality and aquatic resource populations were small after road construction and logging in Deer Creek, even with the very narrow stream protection buffers. Large changes in water quality and suspended sediment were recorded after clearcutting without stream protection and the hot slash fire in Needle Branch. Temperature and suspended sediment levels returned to pretreatment levels within five years. Cutthroat trout numbers decreased significantly.
The hydraulic response of the Alsea watershed study to the first harvest produced results to in the streamflow of Needle Branch creek. Deer creek was shown to be a suitable control and that Upper and Lower Needle Branch respond similarly. There is still a lot of work to be done and suspended sediment analysis to complete.
This project explores the effects of harvesting on the temperature of the fish bearing streams. It also draws comparisons to the historical effects of the old best management practices in comparison to contemporary beast management practices. Some warming was found but significantly less than what had been found in old projects.