The Alsea Watershed Study Revisited in the Oregon Coast Range provided a unique opportunity to investigate and compare the stream temperature responses to contemporary forest harvesting practices (i.e., maintenance of riparian vegetation) with the impacts from historical (1960s) harvesting practices (i.e., no riparian vegetation).
Glyphosate, aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA), imazapyr, sulfometuron methyl (SMM), and metsulfuron methyl (MSM) were measured in streamwater collected during and after a routine application of herbicides to a forestry site in Oregon’s Coast Range. Samples were collected at three stations: HIGH at the fish/no-fish interface in the middle of the harvest/spray unit; MID at the bottom of the unit; and LOW downstream of the unit. All herbicides were applied by helicopter in a single tank mix. AMPA, imazapyr, SMM, and MSM were not detected (ND) in any sample at 15, 600, 500, and 1000 ng/L, respectively. A pulse of glyphosate peaking at ≈62 ng/L manifested at HIGH during the application. Glyphosate pulses peaking at 115 ng/L (MID) and 42 ng/L (HIGH) were found during the first two post-application storm events 8 and 10 days after treatment (DAT), respectively: glyphosate was <20 ng/L (ND) at all stations during all subsequent storm events. All glyphosate pulses were short-lived (4 to 12 h). Glyphosate in baseflow was ≈25 ng/L at all stations 3 DAT and was still ≈25 ng/L at HIGH, but ND at the other stations, 8 DAT: subsequently, glyphosate was ND in baseflow at all stations. These results show that aquatic organisms were subjected to multiple short-duration, low-concentration glyphosate pulses corresponding to a cumulative time-weighted average (TWA) exposure of 6634 ng/L*h. Comparisons to TWA exposures associated with a range of toxicological endpoints for sensitive aquatic organisms suggests a margin of safety exceeding 100 at the experimental site, with the only potential exception resulting from the ability of fish to detect glyphosate via olfaction. For imazapyr, SMM, and MSM the NDs were at concentrations low enough to rule out effects on all organisms other than aquatic plants, and the low concentration and (assumed) pulsed nature of any exposure should mitigate this potential.
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.
The effect of bedrock permeability and underlying catchment boundaries on stream base flow mean transit time (MTT) and MTT scaling relationships in headwater catchments is poorly understood. Here we examine the effect of bedrock permeability on MTT and MTT scaling relations by comparing 15 nested research catchments in western Oregon; half within the HJ Andrews Experimental Forest and half at the site of the Alsea Watershed Study. The two sites share remarkably similar vegetation, topography, and climate and differ only in bedrock permeability (one poorly permeable volcanic rock and the other more permeable sandstone). We found longer MTTs in the catchments with more permeable fractured and weathered sandstone
bedrock than in the catchments with tight, volcanic bedrock (on average, 6.2 versus 1.8 years, respectively). At the permeable bedrock site, 67% of the variance in MTT across catchments scales was explained by drainage area, with no significant correlation to topographic characteristics. The poorly permeable site had opposite scaling relations, where MTT showed no correlation to drainage area but the ratio of median flow path length to median flow path gradient explained 91% of the variance in MTT across seven catchment scales. Despite these differences, hydrometric analyses, including flow duration and recession analysis, and storm response analysis, show that the two sites share relatively indistinguishable hydrodynamic behavior. These results show that similar catchment forms and hydrologic regimes hide different subsurface routing, storage, and scaling behavior—a major issue if only hydrometric data are used to define hydrological similarity for assessing land use or climate change response.
Our studies of stream invertebrate responses to contemporary timber practices compared treated to control sites prior to and following harvest at Hinkle, Alsea and upper Trask watersheds. In each watershed the BACI study design and robust replication has been crucial in accounting for natural variations in macroinvertebrate distributions while examining patterns of change in response to harvest. As these basins vary physically in association with regional and geologic differences, initially we observed distinctive invertebrate assemblage composition for each watershed. In addition the proportion of chironomid midges and total benthic densities were higher at Alsea and Trask headwaters than at Hinkle. Our ability to detect responses to harvest within basins was enhanced when we found no pre-harvest differences in macroinvertebrate densities, percent chironomids, or taxa richness between control and treatment reaches of similar size at Hinkle and Trask watersheds. However significant invertebrate community differences were observed between the two Alsea tributaries, likely due to differences in tributary sizes or other physical and chemical differences. Though benthic invertebrate densities increased at headwater sites post-harvest, there were no detectable density differences at mainstem sites. Prey consumption by trout, whose densities at mainstem sites increased following harvest, possibly explained the lack of change observed for invertebrate densities.
This dissertation integrates a process-based hydrological investigation with an ongoing paired-catchment study to better understand how forest harvest impacts catchment function at multiple scales. This is done by addressing fundamental questions related to the stocks, flows and transit times of water. Isotope tracers are used within a top-down catchment intercomparison framework to investigate the role of geology in controlling streamwater mean transit time and their scaling relationships with the surrounding landscape. We found that streams draining catchments with permeable bedrock geology at the Drift Creek watershed in the Oregon Coast Range had longer mean transit times than catchments with poorly permeable bedrock at the HJ Andrews Experimental Forest in the Oregon Cascades. We also found that differences in permeability contrasts within the subsurface controlled whether mean transit time scaled with indices of catchment topography (for the poorly permeable bedrock) or with catchment area (for the permeable bedrock). We then investigated the process-reasons for the observed differences in mean transit time ranges and scaling behavior using a detailed, bottom-up approach to characterize subsurface water stores and fluxes.
Paired watershed studies provide valuable scientific understanding of the effects of disturbance on aquatic resources. Geographic information system (GIS) tools, combined with principal components and cluster analyses, were used to develop a landscape classification of forested headwater basins in order to support these paired watershed studies. Spatial and statistical analyses were applied to landform, geologic texture, forest cover, and climate variables that describe the biophysical and climatic setting of forested headwater catchments (300 – 58,000 km2) in western Oregon. Cluster analysis isolated 5 groups that account for major differences in environmental conditions across the landscape, but have a large ratio of among to within group dissimilarity. The first and second principal component axes correlate most strongly to differences in slope and elevation, and the percent coniferous tree cover and past harvest, respectively.
At the Sediment Symposium, researchers review and summarize our overall understanding of current scientific knowledge of in-stream sediment. The video archive of the presentations is available.
To view the presentations, please visit this website: http://oregonstate.edu/conferences/event/2013sedimentsummit/videoarchive...
We assessed use and selection of cover by coastal cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkia clarkii) in six headwater streams in three watersheds in western Oregon, USA during the summer low flow period from 1 August and September 30, 2007. We tagged 1037 coastal cutthroat trout (>100 mm) with passive integrated transponder (PIT) tags across all streams. Selection of cover was analyzed by comparing characteristics of locations used for concealment by relocated fish relative to characteristics of randomly available habitat that could be used for concealment. We measured habitat characteristics for 190 relocated individual fish using cover and 797 randomly points potentially available as cover. Of the latter points, only 235 of 797 were potential cover, based on characteristics of cover actually used by fish. Coastal cutthroat trout used substrate as cover (78%) more often than all other cover types combined (22%). Availability of different cover types was variable, but overall substrate made up 92% of available cover and the remaining 8% represented all other cover types combined. Habitat characteristics measured for both used and available cover included depth at fish location (cm), surface area of cover (m2), proximity to depth of 20 cm for fish located in < 20 cm in depth, b-axis (mm) for substrate >2 mm, and distance under substrate. Each of these habitat characteristics was different for used and available cover.
In the Pacific Northwest ecoregion of North America, sculpins represent a major constituent of freshwater assemblages in coastal rivers. Little is known of their interactions with co-occurring species, such as widely studied salmon and trout (salmonines). In this study, I evaluated inter- and intraspecific interactions involving cottids (Cottus sp.) and coastal cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii clarkii). I used a response surface experimental design to independently evaluate effects of cutthroat trout and sculpin biomass on growth and behavior. There was evidence of both intra- and interspecific interactions between cutthroat trout and sculpins, but the interactions were asymmetrical with biomass of cutthroat trout driving both intra- and interspecific interactions, whereas sculpins had little influence overall. Cutthroat trout biomass was positively related to conspecific aggressive interactions and negatively related to growth. Sculpin exhibited increased use of cover during the day in response to greater biomass of cutthroat trout, but not sculpin biomass. Nocturnal use of cover by sculpins was unaffected by biomass of either species. This experiment provides insights into the species interactions and the mechanisms that may allow sculpins and salmonines to coexist in nature. As cutthroat trout appear to be superior competitors, coexistence between sculpins and cutthroat trout may depend on some form of refuge.