Relationships between channel characteristics, woody debris, and fish habitat in northwestern Washington streams

Publication Date



channel, fish habitat, habitat, mechanisms, pool, regression, sediment, shear, slope, spacing, streams

Journal or Book Title

Transactions of the American Fisheries Society


Relationships between large woody debris (LWD) and pool area or pool spacing varied with channel slope and channel width for streams in second-growth forests in northwest Washington. Pool spacing (expressed as the number of channel widths between pools) decreased as number of woody debris increased in both moderate-slope (0.02 < slope < 0.05) and low-slope (0.001 < slope less than or equal to 0.02) channels, but the relationship was stronger in moderate-slope channels. Percent pool was also more strongly correlated with woody debris volume in moderate-slope channels than in low-slope channels. Multiple-regression analyses showed that pool spacing and percent pool were correlated with an interaction term between LWD abundance and channel slope, suggesting that the influence of LWD on pool formation changes with channel slope. Analysis of pool-forming mechanisms indicated that low-slope channels are less sensitive to LWD abundance because pools are formed by mechanisms other than LWD when LWD abundance is low. Size of LWD that formed pools increased with increasing channel width, but was not related to channel slope. Percent gravel (proportion of the bed in patches of gravel 16-64 mm in diameter) was best explained by channel slope and channel width, and there was no significant relationship between woody debris and percent gravel. A regression between median particle size of sediment on the stream bed and basal shear stress showed that the relationships among percent gravel, channel width, and channel slope are adequately explained by the channel's capacity to transport particles of various sizes







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