Resource managers are interested in understanding whether thinning trees in riparian forests could help existing trees grow larger, eventually providing a source of large woody debris, promoting riparian zone heterogeneity, and enhancing riparian biodiversity.
To better understand the effects of riparian thinning on shade, light, and stream temperature, researchers studied thinning treatments intended to reduce canopy closure or basal area within the riparian zone by up to 50 percent in three watersheds in northern California redwood forests. Responses to thinning ranged widely depending on the intensity of thinning treatments. In the watersheds with more intensive treatments, thinning reduced shade, increased light, and altered stream thermal regimes in thinned and downstream reaches by increasing maximum temperatures, thermal variability, and the frequency and duration of elevated temperatures. Results provide relevant information for managers considering thinning as a restoration strategy for second-growth riparian forests.
Roon, D., Dunham, J.B., Groom, J.D., 2021, Shade, light, and stream temperature responses to riparian thinning in second-growth redwood forests, California, USA: PLoS ONE, v. 16, no. 2, e0246822, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0246822.