Coweeta LTER study finds trees vital to improving stream quality

A recent study by Coweeta LTER investigators reconfirmed what has become a well-known truth; forested riparian zones improve stream quality by maintaining cooler water temperatures, wider and more natural stream chanels, and provide woody debris that creates cover and complex habitats for aquatic animals like fish, salamanders and invertebrates. The study was conducted on streams within the Upper Little Tennessee River Basin in the Southern Appalachians and compared streams with surrounding forestland riparian zones to those in the midst of pasture or grassland. Researchers are hoping that this study will help continue the movement to encourage private landowners to reforest the pastures and grasslands, called riparian buffer restoration. A recent news blog by the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources provides greater detail about this research project.  A recently published article in the River Research and Applications Journal titled "Herbaceous Versus Forested Riparian Vegetation: Narrow and Simple Versus Wide, Woody and Diverse Stream Habitat" can be found at DOI: 10.1002/rra.2783.