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Responses of stream benthic macroinvertebrate communities to timber harvesting: Best management practices in a low-gradient watershed in Central Louisiana, USA

Klimesh, Derrick, Gossman, Adrienne V., Xu, Y. Jun, Kaller, Michael D.
Riparian ecology and conservation 2015 v.2 no.1 pp. 72-82
Bivalvia, Chironomidae, Isopoda, agricultural products, analysis of variance, aquatic communities, aquatic invertebrates, autumn, best management practices, community structure, forests, land use, logging, macroinvertebrates, monitoring, spring, streams, summer, trees, water quality, watersheds, Louisiana
Forests are the most dominant land-use type in Louisiana, and timber harvesting is the most economically important of the state’s agricultural commodities. Louisiana has developed voluntary best management practices (BMPs) to minimize negative effects of forest operations on stream water quality, but little is known about how aquatic communities inhabiting low-gradient, headwater streams respond to timber harvesting, and if the current BMPs are effective in protecting community structure and function. In 2005, we initiated a multidisciplinary study in the Flat Creek watershed in central Louisiana to discern the effects of timber harvesting activities, with and without BMP implementation, on benthic aquatic macroinvertebrates. During fall 2007, trees were removed adjacent to two headwater streams in the watershed, and benthic macroinvertebrate samples were subsequently collected at seven stream locations seven times between 2006 and 2009. Our objectives were to describe the community structure of benthic macroinvertebrates in low-order, low-gradient streams, how macroinvertebrate communities responded to timber harvest operations, and whether significant changes in community structure were evident under different levels of BMP implementation. The community structure was predominantly generalist taxa including chironomids, sphaeriid bivalves and asellid isopods. Analyses of variance demonstrated significant increases in bivalve abundance and decreases in the abundance of malacostracan and shredding taxa at most of the sampling sites downstream of BMP-implemented harvest locations in the spring. Additionally, significant increases in bivalves were also found at two sites during late summer. Our results suggest that timber harvesting activities, regardless of BMP implementation, had limited shortterm impacts on resident macroinvertebrates in these lowgradient, subtropical streams. Continued monitoring at the study sites will allow us to better understand the longterm effects of timber harvesting in these stream systems, particularly the resilience of stream biota to harvestingrelated stream conditions.