, Volume 68, Issue 3, pp 487-500

River morphology of mountain streams influenced by an extreme windstorm in the High Tatra Mountains (northern Slovakia)

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In this study we describe how the river morphology of seven High Tatras streams has been influenced in different ways by a severe windstorm that occurred in November 2004. A control site situated in an undisturbed area is compared with six sites in windstorm damaged areas. In 2009–2010 River Habitat Survey (RHS) was used to assess the character of 500 m lengths of stream and to derive associated morphological indices (HQA, HMS sensu Raven 1998, RHS indices sensu Vaughan 2010). Large amounts of large woody debris in the channel influenced the streams despite most of it having been removed after the windstorm. Streams situated in deforested valley slopes were probably more affected by erosion; they had higher amounts of transported inorganic matter and also depositional bar features. Some changes in land-use had occurred with streams situated on the south-east side of the High Tatras having a more uniform banktop vegetation structure than the other streams. Distinct secondary succession of bank top vegetation was observed along windstorm influenced streams. The highest percentage of shrubs occurred where impacted streams remained untouched. Morphologically, the streams most affected by windstorm are those situated in deforested steep valley slopes that are affected by erosion and siltation.