Riparian forests contribute to the diversity and function of both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. To assess some of these contributions, we compared tree composition, stand complexity, and temporal patterns of tree mortality on permanent plots in seven mature and old-growth stands representing upland forests and forests along low- and mid-order streams in the Western Cascade Range of Oregon. We also assessed recruitment of large wood into stream channels due to tree mortality, both by direct measurement and by estimation from tree mortality and location data. Stands differed in composition due to both stream order and successional stage. Stands on mid-order streams had high abundance of hardwood trees and/or Thuja plicata. Stand complexity (variability in tree diameters, tree life-form diversity, and tree species diversity), was high in stands on mid-order streams and in the upland, old-growth stand. Tree mortality was exceptionally high in six of the seven stands in 1996, the year in which the largest flood during the study occurred. However, only in the one stand on an unconstrained reach of a mid-order stream was mortality primarily due to flooding. Estimated recruitment of wood was much higher from the stand on the unconstrained reach than from the other stands on mid-order streams, suggesting that unconstrained reaches may be important for efforts to maintain or restore large wood in streams.
Additional publication details
Composition, complexity, and tree mortality in riparian forests in the central Western Cascades of Oregon