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The role of large wood in streams as ecological corridors for wildlife biodiversity


Until the 1980s, large wood removal from streams was widely promoted across North America because in-stream logs were considered undesirable. At present, millions of dollars are invested annually to place large wood back in streams owing to its importance for the geomorphology of channels, stream discharge, sediment deposits, and habitat for fish. Yet, little is known about the role of large wood in streams for wildlife. Here, we used 12 months of camera trap videos (effort of 4703 camera days) to document wildlife biodiversity and animal activities at several log complexes located in Rock Creek, Willamette River basin, Oregon. Our dataset (1921 independent videos) documented up to 40 species including small mammals, aquatic and terrestrial birds, meso-carnivores, large carnivores, and semi-aquatic mammals. We found a strong seasonality in detections and species richness with the highest values occurring in summer and spring, and the lowest values in winter. There were idiosyncratic responses for species richness and assemblages at each large wood complex. Most common animal activities included movement (68%), rest (18%), and food handling/eating (9%) suggesting that large wood structures in streams act as lateral corridors connecting terrestrial habitats year-round for wildlife. Collectively, we reveal multiple functions that large wood plays to support wildlife biodiversity across the aquatic-terrestrial interface demonstrating the value of restoration projects that involve wood placement into streams.

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Christina Linkem, Brent Cardenas, Francisco Tinoco-Pickens, Alyssa Eklund, and Samantha Munoz provided support during data collection in the field. Arif Jan and Farallon Broughton provided editorial comments. Dave Leer, Bruce Dugger, Randall Moore, Daniel Roby, David Wiens, Clinton Epps, Luke Painter, and Marie Tosa helped with species identification. Kathleen Westly (Marys River Watershed Council) provided valuable information about the restoration efforts conducted in Rock Creek. Tom Hubbard and Jeff Hollenbeck (Corvallis Public Works Department) provided support and access to our study sites. ET was partially funded by the OSU Honors College Experiential Award. Two anonymous reviewers provided thoughtful comments and edits that improved our manuscript.

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Conceptualization: IA, ET; Data curation: ET; Formal analysis: ET, IA; Funding acquisition: IA, ET; Investigation: ET; Methodology: ET, IA; Project administration: ET, IA; Visualization: IA, ET; Roles/Writing—original draft: ET, IA; Writing—review & editing: ET, IA.

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Correspondence to Ivan Arismendi.

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Communicated by Mike Kevin Joy.

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Trevarrow, E., Arismendi, I. The role of large wood in streams as ecological corridors for wildlife biodiversity. Biodivers Conserv 31, 2163–2178 (2022).

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  • Logjams
  • River restoration
  • Riparian ecology
  • Riparian biodiversity