LARGE WOOD IN FLUVIAL SYSTEMS: QUANTITY, STRUCTURE AND LANDFORMS; SEDIMENT RETENTION; AND RIPARIAN SEED BANK DEVELOPMENT
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This thesis investigates the characteristics and impacts of large wood accumulations within river reaches of different size and style. Four reaches were studied: (i) a wide, braided, headwater reach, characterised by dead wood (Tagliamento River, Italy); (ii) a lower gradient, wide, braided reach, characterised by resprouting wood (Tagliamento River, Italy); (iii) a low gradient, single thread reach with a natural supply of dead wood (Highland Water, UK), and (iv) a low gradient, single thread reach that has been restored by felling trees into the river (River Bure, UK). In each reach, quantities of wood, types of accumulation and their association with sediment retention, landform and propagule bank development were investigated, generating four main findings: 1. There were marked differences in the size and character of large wood accumulations among the four reaches. 2. Retention of fine sediment and organic matter by wood was observed on all four reaches, giving rise to notable spatial heterogeneity in surface sediments. 3. Sediment retention resulted in the development of different landforms among the four reaches. In the two multi-thread reaches, accretion of finer sediment around large wood led to island development. In the naturally-functioning single-thread reach, wood jams spanned the river channel, accumulating sediment and organic matter to produce unvegetated wood jams, and inducing other landforms, notably pools and bars. Such geomorphic heterogeneity was anticipated in the restored reach, but to date this has not significantly occurred. 4. Spatio-temporal variations were observed in propagule abundance and species richness within different wood-related mesohabitats. Higher abundance and species richness were associated with finer, more organic sediments retained within wood accumulations and related mesohabitats. In the restored reach such associations were not statistically significant, further indicating that responses to wood emplacement take longer than the 4 years since restoration. iv Overall, this research has strengthened the evidence concerning the differing nature of wood accumulations in rivers of different size and style, and it has demonstrated the importance of large wood for retaining organic matter and plant propagules, resources essential for riparian vegetation succession and for the success of river restoration efforts.
AuthorsOsei, Nana Akwasi
- Theses