The Interaction between Logjams, Channel Evolution, and Sports Fisheries on a Dam Regulated Low Gradient River.

Friday, 19 December 2014
Edward Schenk1, Cliff Hupp1 and Bertrand Moulin2, (1)U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, VA, United States, (2)University of Lyon, Lyon, France
The purpose of our study was to determine the interaction between in-stream large wood (LW), bank erosion, and sports fisheries in the 210 river kilometer (km) Coastal Plain segment of the dam-regulated Roanoke River, North Carolina. Methods included collecting background geomorphic data including a 200 km channel geometry survey and measurements from 701 bank erosion pins at 36 cross-sections over 132 km. LW concentrations were evaluated over a 177 km reach using georeferenced aerial video taken during regulated low flow (56 m3/s). LW transport was measured using 290 radio tagged LW pieces (mean diameter = 35.0 cm, length = 9.3 m) installed between 2008 and 2010. Largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) were surveyed in 2010 at 29 sites using a boat mounted electroshock unit. The abundance of LW in logjams was 59 pieces/km and these were concentrated (21.5 logjams/km) in an actively eroding reach with relatively high sinuosity, high local LW production rates, and narrow channel widths. Most jams (70%) are available nearly year round as aquatic habitat, positioned either on the lower bank or submerged at low-water flows. The actively eroding reach is adjusting to upstream dam regulation by channel widening. The channel upstream of this reach has widened and stabilized while the channel downstream of the eroding reach is still relatively narrow but with lower bank erosion rates. Repeat surveys of radio tagged LW determined that transport was common throughout the study area despite dam regulation and a low channel gradient (0.0016). The mean distance travelled by a radio tagged piece of LW was 11.9 km with a maximum of 101 km (84 tags moved, 96 stationary, 110 not found). Radio tagged LW that moved during the study was found at low flow either in logjams (44%), as individual LW (43%), or submerged mid-channel (14%). Largemouth bass biomass density (g/hr effort) was highest in the actively eroding reach where logjams were most common. Our results support the hypothesis that channel evolution processes control bank stability and complexity that in turn control logjam frequency. Areas with higher concentrations of logjams have larger and more largemouth bass, a valued sports fish.