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Harvard Forest Data Archive

HF095

Headwater Habitat Streams in Central Massachusetts 2002-2005

Related Publications

Data

Overview

  • Lead: Elizabeth Colburn
  • Investigators: J. Choiniere, Cindy Dunn, H. Jensen-Herrin, D. Williams
  • Contact: Elizabeth Colburn
  • Start date: 2002
  • End date: 2005
  • Status: completed
  • Location: Prospect Hill Tract (Harvard Forest), Mt. Wachusett (Princeton MA)
  • Latitude: +42.48 to +42.55
  • Longitude: -72.20 to -71.88
  • Elevation:
  • Taxa:
  • Release date: 2006
  • Revisions:
  • EML file: knb-lter-hfr.95.17
  • DOI: digital object identifier
  • Related links:
  • Study type: short-term measurement
  • Research topic: regional studies; watershed ecology
  • LTER core area: disturbance
  • Keywords: conservation, land use, riparian, stream ecology, streamflow
  • Abstract:

    Headwater streams, particularly those that flow only during part of the year, are understudied and underprotected in Massachusetts. Research being conducted elsewhere suggests that these "Headwater Habitat Streams" are important both for aquatic biodiversity and for ecological function of lower stream reaches. We are carrying out baseline research, involving research scientists and volunteers, on hydrology and habitat characteristics in headwater streams in northern Worcester County, MA.

    We hypothesized that headwater streams exhibit a longitudinal gradient of hydrology, from (1) ephemeral channels that flow only in response to storms, through (2) intermittent sections that flow seasonally until the groundwater table falls below the channel and are dry the rest of the year, to (3) interstitial reaches that flow seasonally and retain pools connected by subsurface flow during the summer, to (4) the perennial stream. Results to date show a high degree of longitudinal heterogeneity in the study streams, with interspersion of perennially flowing reaches among low-gradient sections of vegetated wetland, high-gradient boulder piles, and braided channels. Perennial flow is found high up in some watersheds.

    We expect our methods and results will have implications throughout the Commonwealth for local conservation commissions and other municipal officials responsible for land-use planning and regulation, state agencies responsible for land management and the protection of wildlife, regulators reviewing projects affecting streams, watershed managers, teachers and their students, private land trusts, conservation advocates, and citizen-naturalists.

  • Methods:

    Starting in late summer of 2002, we carried out habitat surveys in headwater tributaries of 15 perennial streams in central Massachusetts. Each of 36 headwaters was flagged at 20-m intervals. Using a modification of the field procedures established by Ohio EPA (2002) for assessment of headwater streams, we recorded habitat characteristics such as flow, gradient, substrate (percent boulder, cobble, sand, leaf dams, etc.), channel conditions (pool, riffle, cascade, etc.), riparian vegetation, and adjacent land use for each 20-m reach of each tributary.

  • Use:

    This dataset is released to the public under Creative Commons license CC BY (Attribution). Please keep the designated contact person informed of any plans to use the dataset. Consultation or collaboration with the original investigators is strongly encouraged. Publications and data products that make use of the dataset must include proper acknowledgement.

  • Citation:

    Colburn E. 2006. Headwater Habitat Streams in Central Massachusetts 2002-2005. Harvard Forest Data Archive: HF095.

Detailed Metadata

hf095-01: stream habitat data

  1. date: sampling date
  2. id: tributary name and meter location along streamlength; each stream has a 2-3 letter code, followed by a letter identifying the headwater tributary (if more than one tributary) and a number identifying the location along the streambank (in meters above confluence with pond, road, or larger stream). A single number indicates a quadrat sample at the location indicated; numbers separated by a dash indicate sampling along a transect (usually 20 m in length).
  3. depth: water depth at sampling location (unit: centimeter / missing value: NA)
  4. numwidth: average width of stream channel (bank to bank) (unit: meter / missing value: NA)
  5. flow: whether flow is intermittent or perennial at the sampling location
    • 1: perennial
    • 2: intermittent
  6. m2.trans.quad: square meters sampled, in quadrat or transect (unit: squareMeter / missing value: NA)
  7. bldr.bedrock: percent of substrate occupied by bedrock or large embedded boulder (unit: dimensionless / missing value: NA)
  8. boulder: percent of substrate occupied by bedrock or large embedded boulder (unit: dimensionless / missing value: NA)
  9. cobble: percent of substrate occupied by cobble (unit: dimensionless / missing value: NA)
  10. gravel: percent of substrate occupied by gravel (unit: dimensionless / missing value: NA)
  11. sand: percent of substrate occupied by sand (unit: dimensionless / missing value: NA)
  12. silt: percent of substrate occupied by silt (unit: dimensionless / missing value: NA)
  13. leafpack: percent of substrate occupied by leaf pack (unit: dimensionless / missing value: NA)
  14. cwd: percent of substrate occupied by coarse woody debris (unit: dimensionless / missing value: NA)
  15. clay.hardpan: percent of substrate occupied by clay or hardpan (unit: dimensionless / missing value: NA)
  16. artificial: percent of substrate occupied by artificial surface (culvert, etc.) (unit: dimensionless / missing value: NA)
  17. unscoured.forestfloor: percent of substrate representing unscoured forest floor (not defined channel) (unit: dimensionless / missing value: NA)
  18. scoured.forestfloor: percent of substrate representing scoured forest floor (not defined channel) (unit: dimensionless / missing value: NA)
  19. substrate.embeddedness: degree to which fine materials surround course materials in substrate of channel
    • 1: low
    • 2: medium
    • 3: high
    • na: no data
  20. pools: percent of habitat consisting of pool (unit: dimensionless / missing value: NA)
  21. cascade: percent of habitat in cascade (unit: dimensionless / missing value: NA)
  22. run: percent of run habitat (unit: dimensionless / missing value: NA)
  23. riffle: percent of riffle habitat (unit: dimensionless / missing value: NA)
  24. moss: percent of moss habitat (unit: dimensionless / missing value: NA)
  25. roots: percent of substrate representing unscoured forest floor (not defined channel) (unit: dimensionless / missing value: NA)
  26. debris: percent of habitat consisting of debris piles (unit: dimensionless / missing value: NA)
  27. damp.dry.sand: percent of habitat consisting of damp or dry sand (unit: dimensionless / missing value: NA)
  28. damp.dry.rocks: percent of habitat consisting of damp or dry rocks (unit: dimensionless / missing value: NA)
  29. riparian.zone.l: Width of riparian area on left (L) side of stream as look upstream
    • 0: none
    • 1: narrow, less than 5 m
    • 2: moderate, 5-10 m
    • 3: wide, more than 10 m
  30. riparian.zone.r: Width of riparian area on right (R) side of stream as look upstream
    • 0: none
    • 1: narrow, less than 5 m
    • 2: moderate, 5-10 m
    • 3: wide, more than 10 m
  31. bank: qualitative measure of bank disturbance
    • 1: undisturbed
    • 2: cleared
    • 3: eroded/cut
    • 4: riprapped
  32. land.uses.l: description of land uses adjacent to the stream, on left (L) as look upstream
    • 0: undisturbed
    • 1: paved road
    • 2: dirt road/trail
  33. land.uses.r: description of land uses adjacent to the stream, on right (R) as look upstream
    • 0: undisturbed
    • 1: paved road
    • 2: dirt road/trail
  34. adjacent.habitat.l: dominant characteristics of riparian zone on each side of stream (left as look upstream)
    • 1: deciduous forest
    • 2: mixed forest
    • 3: coniferous forest
    • 4: wooded wetland
  35. adjacent.habitat.r: dominant characteristics of riparian zone on each side of stream (right as look upstream)
    • 2: mixed forest
    • 3: coniferous forest
    • 4: wooded wetland
    • 6: cleared/cut forest
  36. sinuosity: number of curves in study reach (unit: number / missing value: NA)
  37. gradient: stream gradient
    • 1: flat
    • 2: flat to moderate
    • 3: moderate
    • 4: moderate to severe
    • 5: severe
  38. flow.char: flow at time of sampling
    • 1: dry channel no water
    • 3: pools, damp streambed between, flow not evident OR moist channel, isolated pools, no flow
    • 4: pools, areas of intermittent flow and dry/damp areas
    • 6: flowing continuously
  39. distance.from.pond: distance along stream channel upstream of pond or other starting point
    • 1: 0-50 m
    • 2: 50-100 m
    • 3: 100-150 m
    • 6: 250-300 m
    • 7: 300-350 m
    • 8: 350-400 m
    • 9: 400-450 m
    • 10: 450-500 m
    • 11: 500-550 m
    • NA: no data
  40. elevation: elevation above msl (unit: meter / missing value: NA)