Honors College Thesis


Effects of Contemporary Forest Practices on Stream Nutrients, Temperature, and Periphyton in Small Headwater Streams Public Deposited

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  • Forest harvest practices can impact nutrient concentrations and stream temperatures, altering aquatic ecosystems. To better inform future sustainable forest resource management practices, quantifying the impact of current practices on water quality, particularly in headwater streams is important. In this study, I quantified monthly nitrate-nitrite (N) and orthophosphate (P) concentrations, 7-day maximum temperatures (7DMMT), and chlorophyll-a prior to harvest (2020) and post-harvest (2021) in 10 non-fish bearing watersheds in 2 sub-basins, McGarvey and West Fork Tectah in coastal northern California. Three watersheds were harvested in each sub-basin, with the rest remaining as references. N concentrations varied significantly between sub-basins, with an average of 0.066 mg/L in WF Tectah compared to 0.607 mg/L in McGarvey. P concentrations averaged 0.014 and 0.014 mg/L for WF Tectah and McGarvey respectively. N concentrations increased by an average of 0.055 mg/L in harvested watersheds compared to references (p = 0.697). P concentrations increased by an average of 0.002 mg/L (p = 0.105 - 0.088). Analysis of covariance showed 7DMMT significantly increased in harvested watersheds compared to reference watersheds. Modeling results suggested a negative relationship between 7DMMT and chlorophyll-a, likely due to grazer-periphyton interactions. Current harvest practices have minimal impacts on water quality, but more research is needed.
  • Keywords: Forestry, Water Quality, Aquatic Ecology, Riparian buffers, Periphyton, Disturbance Hydrology
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