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Can forest management be used to sustain water-based ecosystem service in the face of climate change?Author(s): Chelcy Ford; Stephanie Laseter; Wayne Swank; James Vose
Source: Ecological Applications 21(6):2049-2067
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
PDF: Download Publication (1.16 MB)
DescriptionForested watersheds, an important provider of ecosystems services related to water supply, can have their structure, function, and resulting streamflow substantially altered by land use and land cover. Using a retrospective analysis and synthesis of long-term climate and streamflow data (75 years) from six watersheds differing in management histories we explored whether streamflow responded differently to variation in annual temperature and extreme precipitation than unmanaged watersheds. We show significant increases in temperature and the frequency of extreme wet and dry years since the 1980s. Response models explained almost all streamflow variability (adjusted R2 >0.99). In all cases, changing land use altered streamflow. Observed watershed responses differed significantly in wet and dry extreme years in all but a stand managed as a coppice forest. Converting deciduous stands to pine altered the streamflow response to extreme annual precipitation the most; the apparent frequency of observed extreme wet years decreased on average by sevenfold. This increased soil water storage may reduce flood risk in wet years, but create conditions that could exacerbate drought. Forest management can potentially mitigate extreme annual precipitation associated with climate change; however, offsetting effects suggest the need for spatially explicit analyses of risk and vulnerability.
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CitationFord, Chelcy R.; Laseter, Stephanie H.; Swank, Wayne T.; Vose, James M. 2011. Can forest management be used to sustain water-based ecosystem service in the face of climate change? Ecological Applications 21(6):2049-2067.
Keywordsclimate, Coweeta basin, southern Appalachians, USA, drought risk, forest management, land use, paired watershed, precipitation, streamflow, warming, water supply
- Long-term forest management and climate effects on streamflow
- Streamflow response to increasing precipitation extremes altered by forest management
- A comparison of the watershed hydrology of coastal forested wetlands and the mountainous uplands in the Southern US
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