Cooperative Research Units
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Predicting large wood transport and effects on stream geomor...


April 2007 - June 2009


Large wood performs many important ecosystem functions in streams, including diversifying instream flow environments (e.g., plunge pools, and backwater habitat), creating overhead cover for fish, and providing a stable substrate for invertebrates and periphyton. Few instream studies of large wood dynamics have been completed in the Midwest, rather the majority of studies have been from mountainous areas with steeper gradients and narrower floodplains. We will use individual logs to investigate instream wood dynamics in streams flowing through second-growth forest to improve our understanding of instream wood processes in the Midwest. We will relate mobilization and retention of individual pieces to geomorphic conditions and piece characteristics. We hypothesize that shorter, smaller, and more buoyant pieces will be mobilized more readily than large dense pieces, and that channels that are steeper, wider, and more entrenched will retain less wood than narrow, shallow, nonentrenched channels. Information gained from this study will be broadly disseminated and used to improve riparian management policies, wood removal regulations, and stream restoration practices.

Research Products and Activities

Peer Reviewed Publications

  • Merten, E., J. Finlay, L. Johnson, R. Newman, H. Stefan, and B. Vondracek. 2010. Factors influencing wood mobilization in Minnesota streams. Water Resources Research 46: W10514. Abstract | 
  • Merten, E., J. Finlay, L. Johnson, R. Newman, H. Stefan, and B. Vondracek. 2011. Environmental controls of wood entrapment in Upper Midwestern streams. Journal of Hydrological Processes 25: 593-602. Abstract | 

Current Staff

Federal Staff: 95

Masters Students: 238

Phd Students: 144

Post Docs: 54

University Staff: 239

5 Year Summary

Students graduated: 673

Scientific Publications: 1905

Presentations: 4236



  • Bruce VondracekPrincipal Investigator
  • Eric MertenStudent

Funding Agencies

  • Minnesota Department of Natural Resources


Cooperative Research Units Program Headquarters Cooperators

  1. U.S. Geological Survey