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Keywords:

  • stream and air temperatures;
  • land use impacts;
  • forestry;
  • annual, seasonal and diel variation

Abstract

There have been few long term investigations of the effects of afforestation on stream temperatures in the UK, and the present study uses the results of continuous monitoring of water temperatures in a forest and a moorland stream of the Loch Grannoch area in southwest Scotland over a 4 year period to investigate the effects of planting coniferous forest on stream thermal regime. The presence of a coniferous tree canopy resulted in a lowering of mean water temperatures by ∼0·5 °C but larger reductions in summer monthly mean maxima and diel ranges of up to 5 °C and 4 °C respectively. The diel cycle in the forested stream lagged behind that of the moorland site in all months of the year, but the delay in timing was greater for the peak than for the trough in the diel cycle. Mean water temperatures were higher in the forest stream during the mid-winter months, reflecting higher minimum values. Contrasts in stream thermal regime between forest and moorland showed relatively little interannual variability over the study period. Continuous monitoring of air temperatures during 2002 revealed contrasts between the study sites that were less pronounced for air than for water temperature, and suggested it is the shading of incoming solar radiation that has a strong effect in determining the water temperature behaviour of the forested stream. Although the biological impact of the observed contrasts in stream temperature between land uses is likely to be relatively modest, the presence of forest cover moderates the occurrence of high summer temperatures inimical to the survival of some salmonid species. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.