Forest harvest is a primary landscape-scale management action affecting riparian forests. Although concerns about impacts of forest harvest on stream amphibians is generally limited to areas adjacent to harvest, there is a paucity of information regarding potential downstream effects of forest harvest on these species. We designed a before-after, control-impact (BACI) experiment to quantify potential impacts of clearcut logging that included 12-m buffers or smaller variable-width buffers on the distribution and abundance of headwater stream amphibians in adjacent and downstream areas. We sampled larval coastal tailed frogs (Ascaphus truei), coastal giant salamanders (Dicamptodon tenebrosus), and Columbia torrent salamanders (Rhyacotriton kezeri) across 3,915 sampling occasions that spanned 13 study reaches in 2008–2011 (pre-harvest) and 2013–2016 (post-harvest) as part of the Trask River Watershed Study in the Oregon Coast Range, U.S.A. We analyzed these data using occupancy models to estimate occupancy and (when possible) relative abundance, while accounting for various sources of imperfect detection. All species exhibited reduced occupancy adjacent to clearcuts with variable-width buffers (odds ratios [ORs] ranged = 0.24–0.48), and these negative impacts were not always diminished when increasing the buffer size to 12 m (ORs ranged = 0.20–3.56). Dicamptodon tenebrosus was the only species to have occupancy impacted in downstream areas, and this negative impact was related to clearcut logging with uniform 12-m buffers (OR = 0.60). This species was also the only species to have abundance negatively impacted by forest harvest in downstream areas (OR = 0.41 with uniform 12-m buffers, OR = 0.38 with variable-width buffers), albeit impacts to abundance were not evaluated for R. kezeri. Ascaphus truei abundance increased in areas downstream of clearcut logging with uniform 12-m buffers (OR = 2.92). Although we found the direction and magnitude of responses varied by species, our study confirms that clearcut logging can have negative impacts on amphibians that inhabit the adjacent stream areas. Perhaps more importantly, we also found that forest harvest can have negative effects on stream amphibians downstream of the harvested area and that increasing the buffer size to 12 m did not necessarily diminish these impacts in adjacent and downstream areas. Altogether, our study provides a nuanced picture of adjacent and downstream effects of forest harvest on three endemic headwater stream amphibians, and our findings demonstrate that forest management practices should consider downstream effects on aquatic taxa when assessing the impact of harvesting trees near headwater streams.
|Title||Adjacent and downstream effects of forest harvest on the distribution and abundance of larval headwater stream amphibians in the Oregon Coast Range|
|Authors||Adam Duarte, Nathan Chelgren, Jennifer Rowe, Christopher Pearl, Sherri L Johnson, Michael J. Adams|
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Series Title||Forest Ecology and Management|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center|