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Riparian Zone Habitat Assessment. Vegetation and More. What is “riparian vegetation”?. Plants growing on the streambank and adjoining floodplain Plants in this area are influenced by the water from the stream. Riparian Zone. Riparian Vegetation Functions.

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Riparian Zone Habitat Assessment

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Riparian Zone Habitat Assessment

Vegetation and More


What is “riparian vegetation”?

  • Plants growing on the streambank and adjoining floodplain

  • Plants in this area are influenced by the water from the stream


Riparian Zone


Riparian Vegetation Functions

  • Roots stabilize banks / reduce erosion

  • Provide structure or cover for fish

  • Taller vegetation provides shade

  • Organic food source for aquatic organisms

    • Leaves

    • Terrestrial insects


Riparian Vegetation Functions

  • Pollutant filtering

  • Fall into stream – large woody debris

    • Shapes channel

    • Substrate for biological activity


Relationship to Water Quality

  • Turbidity / Sediment

  • Phosphorus

  • Temperature (Shade)

  • Nutrient Uptake

  • Nutrient Release (Alder)


Plant Presence

Habitat Quality

Actual Diversity

Invasive Species

Changes over time

Riparian Assessment

Stability

Shade

Invasive Species

Large Wood Recruitment

Considers non-vegetative stable substrates

Two Ways to Assess a Riparian Zone


Riparian Assessment

  • Can be broken into 3 sections:

    • a 100’ riparian transect perpendicular to the stream,

    • a 100’ “greenline” transect along the stream,

    • a riparian tree count performed in a 100 sq ft area along the stream


Riparian Transect

100ft X 10ft

Zone 3

Zone 2

Zone 1

FLOW

Greenline Transect

100ft X 5 ft

Riffle

Gravel bar

Pool

Starting point


Riparian Assessment

  • Total area = 100 ft x 100 ft (30 m2)

  • Instructions in feet and meters

  • Starting point is at beginning of first (downstream) habitat unit


Zone 3

Zone 2

Zone 1

FLOW

Riffle

Gravel bar

Pool

Riparian Transect

Each zone is 10 meters (33 feet) long

Total transect length = 30 meters (100 feet)


Riparian Transect

Width

10 feet

STREAM

Estimate % cover by 10-20 % increments

May have more or less than 100 feet of “riparian zone”

Length

11 feet


Johnson Creek

175 ft


Measure Slope

Zone 2

Zone 3

Zone 1

Zone 2

Zone 1

10°

25°

40°

55°


Greenline Transect

GREENLINE – the first strip of vegetation along the stream

STREAM

Length

11 feet

Width

5 feet


Zone 3

Zone 2

Zone 1

FLOW

Riffle

Gravel bar

Pool

Riparian Tree Count

Conifer

Deciduous


Tree Size Class

Circumference

Diameter = Circumference

(approx. 3.14)

Diameter


What Does it Tell Us?

  • Riparian and Greenline Transects

    • Extent and diversity of riparian zone

    • Stability

    • Invasive species

  • Riparian Tree Count

    • Age-class diversity

    • Large woody debris recruitment (old growth conifer, >35”, is MOST desirable)


Evaluation of recruitment

  • How many trees of varying size are present in the riparian zone?

  • How close/far are they from the water?

  • Over what time period might they become available?


Large Woody Debris


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