Effects of Upland Timber Harvest and Road Construction on Headwater Stream Fish Assemblages in a Southeastern Forest
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Peason Ridge Training Area, a part of the U.S. Army at Fort Polk, Louisiana was largely cleared of timber to develop a new Digital Multipurpose Battle Area. The purpose of this study was to assess the responses of fish assemblages and stream habitats to timber removal in three headwater streams in the Kisatchie Bayou drainage. The timber was extracted following stringent management plans designed by the U.S. Army to minimize stream impacts. With one stream held as a control, timber harvest activities (i.e. clear cut, selective harvest, and road and stream crossing construction) affected about 60% of the total acreage in the other two watersheds. Among eight stream habitat parameters measured, only the proportions of gravel and cobble substrates decreased in response to construction activities. Likewise, the densities of only 3 of 26 fish species decreased in the impacted streams, although there were similar density declines for these three species in the control stream. Multivariate assessment of fish-habitat associations indicated few, if any, shifts in habitat associations related to timber removal. Lack of major changes within these fish assemblages and stream habitat characteristics were attributed to adequate planning prior to timber abstraction, and to a natural resiliency of southeastern fish assemblages to environmental perturbations.