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Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
Department of Biology
Large woody debris (LWD) is an important component of healthy stream ecosystems. LWD shapes stream physical habitat features, captures and stores organic matter, and serves as shelter, feeding sites, and reproductive substrate for fish and other aquatic organisms. Loss of in-stream LWD and sources of LWD as a result of human activities has negatively impacted many streams. Recently, restoration of in-stream LWD and riparian sources of LWD have become important facets of stream restoration, though many projects involving LWD restoration lack monitoring and evaluation. I evaluated the effects of adding LWD on the fish community in Smith Creek, a small coolwater stream located in Northwest Virginia with a history of habitat degradation due to intense agricultural activity throughout the watershed. I added wooden pallets to previously established fish monitoring stream sections and employed a repeated measures design to examine changes in fish community metrics two years after wood addition. Analyses revealed a significant decrease in density of a dominant benthic species and increase in densitiy of mid-column fish species and a decrease in density of benthic fish species in complex wood treated sections. These results suggest possible interactions between increases in habitat complexity and fish communities in degraded streams. This research can provide valuable information about expected fish community responses to the restoration or addition of LWD in streams and could have implications for future management decisions involving riparian forest management and stream habitat restoration.
Kyger, Chastine Daniel, "Fish community response to the addtion of wood in Smith Creek, Virginia" (2010). Masters Theses. 379.