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  • 1.
    Holmlund, Moa
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology.
    The impact of changed land use on a river landscape: Study on brown trout habitat in the Laxbäcken catchment, Västerbotten County, Sweden2008Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
    Abstract [en]

    Anthropogenic impacts on river landscapes are becoming an increasingly important issue, judging by the passing of several European directives as well as international conventions; the EC Water Framework Directive, the EC Habitat Directive, the European Landscape Convention and the UN Convention of Biodiversity among others. These directives and conventions influence national forest use regimes, that play a big role in shaping the landscape, the riparian zones and the streams. More knowledge is needed not only on the present ecological-geographical status and land use of drainage basins, but also on historical status and changes.

    The aim of this paper is to study how different forest management regimes have influenced the river landscape, the riparian zone and the population of brown trout and to create a baseline for future studies. The study was undertaken in the Laxbäcken catchment area in the Vilhelmina municipality, Västerbotten County in September 2005.

    The study area was chosen within an area investigated in an earlier study of the same drainage basin. Within its boundaries nine sections, each 1 km long, of streams of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th stream order were investigated and stream morphology variables with a big influence on the river landscape and consequently on brown trout habitats were mapped. Selected parameters were: a) for land use studies: ditches for drainage of wet and moist land and examples of human influence such as road drums and b) for ecological-geographical studies: variables of stream morphology variables such as channel width and depth and quantity and quality of large woody debris (LWD). The data collection of the current status in field was supplemented by five interviews in order to gain information on the historical land use and changes that have occurred in River Laxbäcken. The interviews were based on a questionnaire, but complemented with in-depth interviews.

    Results indicate that forest use and forest management in the riparian zones controls the abundance of LWD in the streams, and that its design impacts brown trout habitats, as does the clearing of Laxbäcken for log-driving and the building of hydroelectric dams further down in Ångermanälven River. The results also suggest that the LWD may have bigger impact on channel morphology in smaller streams of the 2nd and 3rd stream orders, with lower stream flow, than in streams of the 4th stream order. All the above mentioned parameters seem to have contributed to the gradual loss of essential ecological processes, such as reduced food supply and degradation of spawning grounds, that have caused a reduction and degradation of brown trout habitats in the Laxbäcken catchment area. It seems clear, that in order to maintain a viable brown trout population in Laxbäcken, efforts to restore their habitats have to focus not only on the river channel itself, but also on the management of surrounding land and especially on riparian zones, as well as invest in fish ladders further down in the catchment.

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