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Stream metabolism can be used as a measure of freshwater ecosystem health because of its responsiveness to natural and anthropogenic changes. In this study, we used stream metabolic rates to test for the effects of a timber harvest with Louisiana’s current best management practices (BMPs). The study was conducted from 2006 to 2010 in a loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) stand in north-central Louisiana, USA, 45 ha of which was clear cut harvested in the summer of 2007. Dissolved oxygen (DO), water temperature, and stream depth were recorded at a site upstream (serving as a reference) and a site downstream of the harvested area. Using diurnal DO change and an open-system, single-station method at each site, we quantified rates of net ecosystem productivity (NEP), gross primary productivity (GPP), community respiration (CR), and the GPP/CR ratio. The system was predominately heterotrophic, with a GPP/CR ratio of less than one for 82% of the time at the upstream site. No calculated metabolic rate was significantly changed by the timber harvest (two-way ANOVA with interaction; p < 0.001). Overall, the results suggest that timber harvests of similar intensity with Louisiana’s current BMPs may not significantly impact stream biological conditions.


Originally published in Water.

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