Spatial pattern, density, and characteristics of large wood in Connecticut streams: implications for stream restoration priorities in southern New England

1024 681 Stroud Water Research Center

Costigan, K.H., and M.D. Daniels. 2011. River Research and Applications 29(2):161–171.

doi: 10.1002/rra.1589


Many streams have been modified so extensively that river managers do not have clear reference conditions to frame targets for stream restoration. Large woody debris (LWD) has long been recognized as an important influence on both geomorphic and ecologic processes in stream channels; however, there have been few studies of LWD dynamics in New England. Although this region is heavily forested today, the forest is predominantly young (70–90 years old) regrowth following a historical episode of severe deforestation. This study presents the results of an extensive census of LWD and associated stream characteristics in over 16 river kilometres of northeastern Connecticut streams and represents the first reported inventory of wood loading and sorting in Southern New England. Results of this study indicate that wood loading and jam frequencies in the study region are low: 2.5–17.8 and 0.5–5.51 per 100 m, respectively. Orientation of LWD is predominantly parallel to flow, an indication that these streams are not retaining organic matter or sediment, which has important geomorphic and ecologic implications. Results imply that stream recruitment of LWD is still lagging from the massive forest conversions of the 18th and 19th centuries. Given the low wood loadings observed in the study reaches, manual wood addition and continued forest regeneration would likely improve both habitat diversity and organic matter and fine sediment retention in these systems.