A study of in stream complexity in three Oregon Coast Range watersheds Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/gx41mm00q

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  • This study investigates patterns of physical structure organization in stream networks. In particular, it seeks to describe patterns of wood, boulders, pools and slope that are evident in stream channels and to determine whether patterns of these elements are influenced by network-level controls. The four in-stream parameters were combined to produce a metric of complexity, which was used to investigate differences in patters and organization of in-stream structure within and between watersheds. Research was conducted in three Oregon Coast Range watersheds' Rogers Creek in the Northern Oregon Coast Range, and Turner and Elk Creeks in the South Central Oregon Coast Range. Rogers, Turner and Elk Creeks were 26km2, 12km2, and 17km2 respectively and fell into two distinct geologic regions, basalt geology in the north and sandstone geology in the south. Fifteen km of stream were surveyed in 60 meter segments for a total of 246 stream segments observations. There were 77, 70, and 99 study segments in Rogers, Turner and Elk Creeks respectively. The network-level controls investigated were stream junctions, channel constraint, and debris flows. It was hypothesized that these network-level controls influence in-stream complexity by encouraging uneven distribution of large material which in turn influences stream slope and pooi abundance. Network-level controls where associated with differing patterns of complexity in each watershed. The influence of the network-level control was in part dependent on factors including: geologic setting, stream slope differences and difference in disturbance regimes. Stream junctions and constrained segments were found to be associated with some of the highest values of complexity, while recent debris flows were associated with lower complexity values. Several of the hypotheses described in the Network Dynamics Hypothesis (Benda et al. 2004b) were investigated using a geographic information system (GIS) and data derived from a digital elevation model (DEM). The GIS was used to test for relationships between field measured complexity and stream network parameters that were developed using a program for DEM analysis. DEM derived data for the contributing area, junction angle and debris flow potential at sample points illustrated a weak relationship with complexity. By better understanding the influence of network level controls on complexity it may be possible to improve the understanding of how stream networks connect hillslope and riparian environments, thereby aiding watershed management and identifying locations of diverse habitat in the stream network.
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