Skip to main content

Spatial and seasonal variability of forested headwater stream temperatures in western Oregon, USA

Abstract

Thermal regimes of forested headwater streams control the growth and distribution of various aquatic organisms. In a western Oregon, USA, case study we examined: (1) forested headwater stream temperature variability in space and time; (2) relationships between stream temperature patterns and weather, above-stream canopy cover, and geomorphic attributes; and (3) the predictive ability of a regional stream temperature model to account for headwater stream temperature heterogeneity. Stream temperature observations were collected at 48 sites within a 128-ha managed forest in western Oregon during 2012 and 2013. Headwater stream temperatures showed the greatest spatial variability during summer (range up to 10 \(^\circ\)C) and during cold and dry winter periods (range up to 7.5 \(^\circ\)C), but showed less spatial variability during spring, fall and wet winter periods (range between 2 and 5 \(^\circ\)C). Distinct thermal regimes among sites were identified; however, geomorphic attributes typically used in regional stream temperature models were not good predictors of thermal variability at headwater scales. A regional stream temperature model captured the mode of mean August temperatures observed across the study area, but overpredicted temperatures for a quarter of the sites by up to 2.8 \(^\circ\)C. This study indicates considerable spatial thermal variability may occur at scales not resolved by regional stream temperature models. Recognizing this sub-landscape variability may be important when predicting distributions of aquatic organisms and their habitat under climate and environment change scenarios.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8

References

  • Adams MJ, Frissell C (2001) Thermal habitat use and evidence of seasonal migration by Rocky Mountain tailed frogs, Ascaphus montanus, in Montana. Can Field Natural 115:251–256

    Google Scholar 

  • Anderson PD, Larson DJ, Chan SS (2007) Riparian buffer and density management influences on microclimate of young headwater forests of western Oregon. Forest Sci 53:254–269

    Google Scholar 

  • Arismendi I, Johnson SL, Dunham JB, Haggerty R (2013) Descriptors of natural thermal regimes in streams and their responsiveness to change in the Pacific Northwest of North America. Freshw Biol 58(5):880–894

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Arismendi I, Johnson SL, Dunham JB, Haggerty R, Hockman-Wert D (2012) The paradox of cooling streams in a warming world: Regional climate trends do not parallel variable local trends in stream temperature in the Pacific continental United States. Geophys Res Lett 39(10):L10401

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Arscott D, Tockner K, Ward J (2001) Thermal heterogeneity along a braided floodplain river (Tagliamento River, Northeastern Italy). Can J Fisher Aquat Sci 58(12):2359–2373

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Behnke RJ (2002) Trout and salmon of North America. The Free Press, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Benyahya L, Caissie D, El-Jabi N, Satish MG (2010) Comparison of microclimate vs. remote meteorological data and results applied to a water temperature model (Miramichi River, Canada). J Hydrol 380(3):247–259

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Beschta RL, Bilby RE, Brown G, Holtby LB, Hofstra TD (1987) Stream temperature and aquatic habitat: fisheries and forestry interactions. In: Salo EO, Cundy TW (eds) Streamside management: forestry and fishery interactions, number 57. University of Washington, Institute of Forest Resources, Seattle, pp 191–232

    Google Scholar 

  • Bormans M, Webster IT (1998) Dynamics of temperature stratification in lowland rivers. J Hydraul Eng 124:1059–1063

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Brown GW (1969) Predicting temperatures of small streams. Water Resour Res 5(1):68–75

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Brown HA (1975) Temperature and development of the tailed frog, Ascaphus truei. Compar Biochem Physiol Part A 50:397–405

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Brown LE, Hannah DM (2008) Spatial heterogeneity of water temperature across an alpine river basin. Hydrol Process 22(7):954–967

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Brown RS, Hubert WA, Daly SF (2011) A primer on winter, ice, and fish: what fisheries biologists should know about winter ice processes and stream-dwelling fish. Fisheries 36(1):8–26

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bury RB (1968) The distribution of Ascaphus truei in California. Herpetologica 24:39–46

    Google Scholar 

  • Cadbury SL, Hannah DM, Milner AM, Pearson CP, Brown LE (2008) Stream temperature dynamics within a New Zealand glacierized river basin. River Res Appl 24(1):68–89

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Chang H, Psaris M (2013) Local landscape predictors of maximum stream temperature and thermal sensitivity in the Columbia River Basin, USA. Sci Total Environ 461462:587–600

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Cissel JH, Anderson PD, Berryman S, Chan SS, Olson DH, Puettmann KJ, Thompson C (2006) BLM density management and riparian buffer study: establishment report and study plan. Scientific investigations report 2006–5087. US Department of the Interior, Geological Survey, Reston

  • Clark P, Alley R, Pollard D (1999) Northern Hemisphere ice-sheet influences on global climate change. Science 286(5442):1104

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Daigle A, St-Hilaire A, Peters D, Baird D (2010) Multivariate modelling of water temperature in the Okanagan watershed. Can Water Resour J 35(3):237–258

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Danehy RJ, Colson CG, Parrett KB, Duke SD (2005) Patterns and sources of thermal heterogeneity in small mountain streams within a forested setting. Forest Ecol Manag 208:287–302

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Development Core Team R (2014) R: a language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna

    Google Scholar 

  • Dick J, Tetzlaff D, Soulsby C (2015) Landscape influence on small-scale water temperature variations in a moorland catchment. In: Hydrological processes

  • Durance I, Ormerod SJ (2007) Climate change effects on upland stream macroinvertebrates over a 25-year period. Global Change Biol 13(5):942–957

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ebersole JL, Liss WJ, Frissell CA (2003) Thermal heterogeneity, stream channel morphology, and salmonid abundance in northeastern Oregon streams. Can J Fisher Aquat Sci 60(10):1266–1280

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Franklin JF, Dyrness CT (1973) Natural vegetation of Oregon and Washington. Technical report, Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station, US Department of Agriculture, Portland, Oregon, USDA Forest Service General Technical Report PNW

  • Frazer GW, Canham CD, Lertzman, KP (1999) Gap Light analyser (GLA), version 2.0: imaging software to extract canopy structure and light transmission indices from true-colour fisheye photographs. User’s manual and program documentation. Simon Fraser University, Burnady

  • Friberg N, Bergfur JJR, Sandin L (2013) Changing Northern catchments: is altered hydrology, temperature or both going to shape future stream communities and ecosystem processes? Hydrolog Process 27:734–740

  • Gardner B, Sullivan PJ, Lembo AJ Jr (2003) Predicting stream temperatures: geostatistical model comparison using alternative distance metrics. Can J Fish Aquat Sci 60(3):344–351

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Garner G, Malcolm IA, Sadler JP, Millar CP, Hannah DH (2014) Inter-annual variability in the effects of riparian woodland on micro-climate, energy exchanges and water temperature of an upland Scottish stream. Hydrolog Process. doi:10.1002/hyp.10223

  • Gomi T, Moore RD, Dhakal AS (2006) Headwater stream temperature response to clear-cut harvesting with different riparian treatments, coastal British Columbia, Canada. Water Resour Res 42(8):W08437

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gomi T, Sidle RC, Richardson JS (2002) Understanding processes and downstream linkages of headwater systems. BioScience 52(10):905–916

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gravelle JA, Link TE (2007) Influence of timber harvesting on water temperatures in a northern Idaho watershed. Forest Sci 53:189–205

    Google Scholar 

  • Groom JD, Dent L, Madsen LJ (2011) Stream temperature change detection for state and private forests in the Oregon Coast Range. Water Resour Res 47(1):W01501

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hannah DM, Malcolm IA, Soulsby C, Youngson AF (2008) A comparison of forest and moorland stream microclimate, heat exchanges and thermal dynamics. Hydrol Process 22(7):919–940

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hester E, Doyle M, Poole G (2009) The influence of in-stream structures on summer water temperatures via induced hyporheic exchange. Limnol Oceanogr 54(1):355–367

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Holsinger L, Keane RE, Isaak DJ, Eby L, Young MK (2014) Relative effects of climate change and wildfires on stream temperatures: a simulation modeling approach in a Rocky Mountain watershed. Clim Change 124(1–2):191–206

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Holtby LB (1988) Effects of logging on stream temperatures in Carnation Creek British Columbia, and associated impacts on the coho salmon ( Oncorhynchus kisutch). Can J Fisher Aquat Sci 45(3):502–515

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hossack BR, Lowe WH, Webb MAH, Talbott MJ, Kappenman KM, Corn PS (2013) Population-level thermal performance of a cold-water ectotherm is linked to ontogeny and local environmental heterogeneity. Freshw Biol 58:2215–2225

    Google Scholar 

  • Hrachowitz M, Soulsby C, Imholt C, Malcolm IA, Tetzlaff D (2010) Thermal regimes in a large upland salmon river: a simple model to identify the influence of landscape controls and climate change on maximum temperatures. Hydrol Process 24:3374–3391

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Imholt C, Soulsby C, Malcolm IA, Hrachowitz M, Gibbins CN, Langan S, Tetzlaff D (2013) Influence of scale on thermal characteristics in a large montane river basin. River Res Appl 29:403–419

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Isaak DJ, Luce CH, Rieman BE, Nagel DE, Peterson EE, Horan DL, Parkes S, Chandler GL (2010) Effects of climate change and wildfire on stream temperatures and salmonid thermal habitat in a mountain river network. Ecol Appl 20:1350–1371

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Isaak DJ, Wenger SJ, Peterson EE, Ver Hoer JM, Hostetler S, Luce CH, Dunham JB, Kershner J, Roper BB, Nagel D, Horan D, Chandler G, Parkes S, Wollrab S (2011) NorWeST: an interagency stream temperature database and model for the Northwest United States. US Fish and Wildlife Service, Great Northern Landscape Conservation Cooperative Grant. Project website: http://www.fs.fed.us/rm/boise/AWAE/projects/NorWeST.html

  • Isaak DJ, Young MK, Nagel DE, Horan DL, Groce MC (2015) The cold-water climate shield: delineating refugia for preserving salmonid fishes through the 21st century. Glob Change Biol 21:2540–2553

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Johnson RA, Wichern DW (2002) Applied multivariate statistical analysis, 5th edn. Prentice-Hall, Upper Saddle River

  • Johnson SL (2004) Factors influencing stream temperatures in small streams: substrate effects and a shading experiment. Can J Fish Aquat Sci 61(6):913–923

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Jones LLC, Leonard WP, Olson DH (eds) (2005) Amphibians of the Pacific Northwest. Seattle Audubon Society, Seattle

  • Langridge RW (1987) Soil survey of Linn County Area. Oregon, technical report, United States Department of Agriculture, Soil Conservation Service

  • Leach JA, Moore RD (2010) Above-stream microclimate and stream surface energy exchanges in a wildfire-disturbed riparian zone. Hydrol Process 24(17):2369–2381

    Google Scholar 

  • Leach JA, Moore RD (2011) Stream temperature dynamics in two hydrogeomorphically distinct reaches. Hydrol Process 25(5):679–690

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Leach JA, Moore RD (2014) Winter stream temperature in the rain-on-snow zone of the Pacific northwest: influences of hillslope runoff and transient snow cover. Hydrol Earth Syst Sci 18:819–838

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Leach JA, Moore RD (2015) Observations and modeling of hillslope throughflow temperatures in a coastal forested catchment. Water Resour Res 51(5):3770–3795

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • MacDonald RJ, Boon S, Byrne JM (2014) A process-based stream temperature modelling approach for mountain regions. J Hydrol 511:920–931

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Marquardt T, Temesgen H, Anderson PD, Eskelson B (2012) Evaluation of sampling methods to quantify abundance of hardwoods and snags within conifer-dominated riparian zones. Ann Forest Sci 69(7):821–828

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Mayer TD (2012) Controls of summer stream temperature in the Pacific Northwest. J Hydrol 475:323–335

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Meeuwig MH, Dunham JB, Hayes JP, Vinyard GL (2004) Effects of constant and cyclical thermal regimes on growth and feeding of juvenile cutthroat trout of variable sizes. Ecol Freshw Fish 13:208–216

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Meisner JD, Rosenfeld JS, Regier HA (1988) The role of groundwater in the impact of climate warming on stream salmonines. Fisheries 13(3):2–8

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Moore RD (2006) Stream temperature patterns in British Columbia, Canada, based on routine spot measurements. Can Water Resour J 31(1):41

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Moore RD, Nelitz M, Parkinson E (2013) Empirical modelling of maximum weekly average stream temperature in British Columbia, Canada, to support assessment of fish habitat suitability. Can Water Resour J 38(2):135–147

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Moore RD, Spittlehouse DL, Story A (2005a) Riparian microclimate and stream temperature response to forest harvesting: a review. J Am Water Resour Assoc 41(4):813–834

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Moore RD, Sutherland P, Gomi T, Dhakal A (2005b) Thermal regime of a headwater stream within a clear-cut, coastal British Columbia, Canada. Hydrol Process 19(13):2591–2608

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • O’Callaghan JF, Mark DM (1984) The extraction of drainage networks from digital elevation data. Comput Vis Graph Image Process 28:323–344

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Oke T (1987) Boundary layer climates, 2nd edn. Halsted Press, London

    Google Scholar 

  • Olson DH, Anderson PD, Frissell CA, Welsh HH Jr, Bradford DF (2007) Biodiversity management approaches for stream riparian areas: perspectives for Pacific Northwest headwater forests, microclimate and amphibians. Forest Ecol Manag 246(1):81–107

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Olson DH, Burton JI (2014) Near-term effects of rerepeat thinning with riparian buffers on headwater stream vertebrates and habitats in Oregon, USA. Forests 5:2703–2729

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Olson DH, Leirness JB, Cunningham PG, Steel EA (2014) Riparian buffers and forest thinning: effects on headwater vertebrates 10 years after thinning. Forest Ecol Manag 321:81–93

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Olson DH, Rugger C (2007) Preliminary study of the effects of headwater riparian reserves with upslope thinning on stream habitats and amphibians in western Oregon. Forest Sci 53(2):331–342

    Google Scholar 

  • Olson DH, Weaver G (2007) Vertebrate assemblages associated with headwater hydrology in western Oregon managed forests. Forest Sci 53(2):343–355

    Google Scholar 

  • Parkinson EA, Lea EV, Nelitz MA, Knudson JM, Moore RD (2015) Identifying temperature thresholds associated with fish community changes in British Columbia, Canada, to support identification of temperature sensitive streams. River research and applications

  • Perkins RM, Jones JA (2008) Climate variability, snow, and physiographic controls on storm hydrographs in small forested basins, western cascades, Oregon. Hydrol Process 22(25):4949–4964

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Pluhowski EJ (1970) Urbanization and its effect on the temperature of the streams on Long Island, New York. Technical report, Geological survey professional paper, 627-D

  • Rieman BE, Isaak D, Adams S, Horan D, Nagel D, Luce C (2007) Anticipated climate warming effects on bull trout habitats and populations across the interior Columbia River basin. Trans Am Fish Soc 136:1552–1565

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rutherford JC, Macaskill JB, Williams BL (1993) Natural water temperature variations in the lower Waikato River, New Zealand. N Z J Marine Freshw Res 27:71–85

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rykken JJ, Moldenke AR, Olson DH (2007) Headwater riparian forest-floor invertebrate communities associated with alternative forest management practices. Ecol Appl 17(4):1168–1183

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Sagar J, Olson DH, Schmitz R (2006) Survival and growth of larval coastal giant salamanders (Dicamptodon tenebrosus) in stream in the Oregon Coast Range. Copeia 2007:123–130

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Scott MC, Helfman GS, McTammany ME, Benfield EF, Bolstad PV (2002) Multiscale influence on physical and chemical stream conditions across Blue Ridge landscapes. J Am Water Resour Assoc 38:1379–1392

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Snyder CD, Hitt NP, Young JA (2015) Accounting for groundwater in stream fish thermal habitat responses to climate change. Ecol Appl 25(5):1397–1419

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Story A, Moore RD, Macdonald JS (2003) Stream temperatures in two shaded reaches below cutblocks and logging roads: downstream cooling linked to subsurface hydrology. Can J Forest Res 33(8):1383–1396

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • System for automated geoscientific analyses geographic information system 2013. SAGA GIS, version 2.1.1. http://www.saga-gis.org

  • Thornton PE, Thornton MM, Mayer BW, Wilhelmi N, Wei Y, Devarakonda R, Cook RB (2014) Daymet: daily surface weather data on a 1-km grid for North America, version 2. Data set. Oak Ridge National Laboratory Distributed Active Archive Center, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, USA. Data acaccess: 2015/01/23. Temporal range: 1980/01/01-2013/12/31. Spatial range: Lat: 44.56 Long: -122.56. http://daac.ornl.gov

  • Trotter P (2008) Cutthroat native trout of the West, 2nd edn. University of California Press, Berkeley

    Google Scholar 

  • Webb BW, Hannah DM, Moore RD, Brown LE, Nobilis F (2008) Recent advances in stream and river temperature research. Hydrol Process 22(7):902–918

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Webb BW, Zhang Y (1999) Water temperatures and heat budgets in Dorset chalk water courses. Hydrol Process 13(3):309–321

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wehrly KE, Brenden TO, Wang L (2009) A comparison of statistical approaches for predicting stream temperatures across heterogeneous landscapes. J Am Water Resour Assoc 45(4):986–997

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wehrly KE, Wiley MJ, Seelbach PW (2003) Classifying regional variation in thermal regime based on stream fish community patterns. Trans Am Fish Soc 132(1):18–38

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Welsh HH Jr, Lind AJ (1996) Habitat correlates of the southern torrent salamander, Rhyacotriton variegatus (Caudata: Rhyacotritonidae), in northwestern California. J Herpetol 30:385–398

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Zevenbergen LW, Thorne CR (1987) Quantitative analysis of land surface topography. Earth Surf Process Landf 12:47–56

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

We greatly acknowledge the cooperation and financial support provided by the Pacific North West Research Station (agreement number: 14-JV-11261953-075). We thank Kelly Christiansen for preparing Fig. 1, Loretta Ellenburg and Dan Mikowski for field efforts, Dan Moore for providing feedback on an earlier draft, and two reviewers and Editor-in-Chief Stuart Findlay for comments that substantially improved the manuscript. We also acknowledge the US Bureau of Land Management for facilitation and support of the Density Management and Riparian Buffer Study for the past two decades.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to J. A. Leach.

Electronic supplementary material

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.

Supplementary Fig. 1 (PDF 219 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Leach, J.A., Olson, D.H., Anderson, P.D. et al. Spatial and seasonal variability of forested headwater stream temperatures in western Oregon, USA. Aquat Sci 79, 291–307 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00027-016-0497-9

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00027-016-0497-9

Keywords

  • Stream temperature
  • Stream networks
  • Headwater
  • Pacific Northwest
  • Aquatic habitat