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Suspended-sediment responses after strip thinning in headwater catchments

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We examined changes in suspended-sediment yields (SSY) after a 50 % strip thinning in headwater streams draining a Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria japonica) and cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa) plantation forest. We applied a paired-catchment analysis to treated (K T : 17.1 ha) and control (K C : 8.9 ha) catchments. Annual suspended-sediment yield (SSYan) in the prethinning period in the K T and K C catchments was 110.0 and 142.1 kg/ha per year. For the postthinning period, SSYan in the K T catchment became 5055.6 kg/ha per year, whereas that in the K C catchment increased 893.2 kg/ha per year. The paired-catchment analysis revealed that SSY in the K T catchment increased 17.0-fold compared with the prethinning period. However, the dominant hysteresis pattern remained clockwise in both pre- and postthinning periods. Sequences of large storm events in the postthinning period elevated SSY in both catchments. Increase in suspended sediment in the K T catchment was associated with the combined impacts of thinning and sequences of storm events during the period of thinning operation.

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This research was supported by the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) Core Research for Evolutional Science and Technology (CREST) project titled “Development of Innovative Technologies for Increasing Watershed Runoff and Improving the River Environment by the Management of Devastated Forest Plantations.” We thank the members of the Laboratory of Watershed Hydrology and Ecosystem Management, Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, for their cooperation. Support from staff in the Field Museum of Karasawayama is also highly appreciated.

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Correspondence to Sooyoun Nam.

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Nam, S., Hiraoka, M., Gomi, T. et al. Suspended-sediment responses after strip thinning in headwater catchments. Landscape Ecol Eng 12, 197–208 (2016).

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  • Suspended-sediment concentration
  • Suspended-sediment yield
  • Paired-catchment analysis
  • Strip thinning