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We examined instream large woody debris (LWD) dynamics on the Sabine River, TX. All wood >10 cm in diameter and >2 m long was measured on four river meanders (meander wavelengths) below the dam on Toledo Bend Reservoir. We determined LWD species, degree of decay, bank orientation, jam association, and stage contact. We also measured riparian vegetation characteristics on each meander. LWD volumes were significantly greater at the site immediately below Toledo Bend Dam, due to the relatively steeper channel gradient and higher rates of channel erosion. Based on mass balance estimates, between 11 and 21% of total annual recruitment came from upstream fluvial transport, and the remainder resulted from bank erosion and tree mortality. We estimated average LWD residence time to be 12–14 years. The lower Sabine River is transport-limited for sediment, and the same is true for LWD. Based on these measurements, it is unlikely that Toledo Bend Reservoir is having a significant impact on LWD dynamics at the measurement reaches due to lacustrine wood storage. Of greater concern in the study system are riparian forest degradation and invasive species spread, which may dramatically affect future LWD loadings and residence times, and thus, riverine biota.



Originally published in Southern Naturalist Special Issue 13(sp5) 2014; 1-14.

Proceedings of the 5th Big Thicket Science Conference: Changing Landscapes and Changing Climate 2014




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