Skip to page content
USDA Forest Service

Research & Development Treesearch

Treesearch Home
About Treesearch
Contact Us
Research & Development
Forest Products Lab
International Institute of Tropical Forestry
Pacific Northwest
Pacific Southwest
Rocky Mountain
Southern Research Station
Help - We Participate  Government Made Easy

Global Forest Information Service

US Forest Service
P.O. Box 96090
Washington, D.C.

(202) 205-8333

You are here: Home / Search / Publication Information
Bookmark and Share

Publication Information

View PDF (1.31 MB bytes)

Title: Structures linking physical and biological processes in headwater streams of the Maybeso watershed, Southeast Alaska

Author: Bryant, Mason D.; Gomi, Takashi; Piccolo, Jack J.;

Date: 2007

Source: Forest Science, Vol. 53(2): 371-383

Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication

Description: We focus on headwater streams originating in the mountainous terrain of northern temperate rain forests. These streams rapidly descend from gradients greater than 20% to less than 5% in U-shaped glacial valleys. We use a set of studies on headwater streams in southeast Alaska to define headwater stream catchments, link physical and biological processes, and describe their significance within watersheds. We separate headwater stream systems into four units that have distinct hydrologic and geomorphic processes that link terrestrial processes to aquatic systems. Headwater streams collect, process, and transport material downstream. Physical and biological processes in headwater streams are complex and closely tied to terrestrial processes. Steps and step pools formed by large wood are keystone structures that link physical processes to biological processes and increase channel complexity. Large and coarse wood debris dams form in-channel step structures and act as valves that regulate the downstream flow of material. A large amount of inorganic and organic sediment is stored in step structures, which may be biological hotspots in headwater streams. Step pools formed by large woody debris are critical habitat for Dolly Varden (Salvelinus malma), juvenile coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch), steelhead (0. mykiss), and cutthroat trout (0. clarkii) in reaches with gradients from less than 4% to those greater than 10%. Landslides and debris flows are the dominant channel-altering processes in headwater streams and remove the step profile. Management activities that increase the number and frequency of channel disturbance events in headwater streams can have important and long-term consequences throughout a watershed.

Keywords: watershed management, large wood, sediment transport, salmonids, geomorphology

Publication Notes:

  • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
  • You may send email to to request a hard copy of this publication. (Please specify exactly which publication you are requesting and your mailing address.)



Bryant, Mason D.; Gomi, Takashi; Piccolo, Jack J. 2007. Structures linking physical and biological processes in headwater streams of the Maybeso watershed, Southeast Alaska. Forest Science, Vol. 53(2): 371-383


 [ Get Acrobat ]  Get the latest version of the Adobe Acrobat reader or Acrobat Reader for Windows with Search and Accessibility

USDA logo which links to the department's national site. Forest Service logo which links to the agency's national site.