Forests and the temperature of upland streams in Wales: a modelling exploration of the biological effects


Dr N. S. Weatherley. c/o NRA, Penyfai House. Furnace. Llanelli, Dyfed SA15 4EL.


SUMMARY. 1. Daily temperature data from six streams in upland Wales were used to explore the thermal effects of afforestation on stream ecology. The data were linked to published biological models to simulate fish and invertebrate development.

2. Mean daily temperatures in forest streams were lower than those of moorland streams in spring and summer, and higher in winter. These spatial comparisons were supported by the results of experimental bank-side clearance at a forest site, where there was evidence that stream temperatures fell in winter and rose in spring following treatment.

3. Simulations indicated that brown trout (Salmo trutta) could weigh over 30% more by the end of their second growing season in a moorland compared with a forest stream. Several species of insects showed slower simulated egg development at forest sites. For two ephemeropteran species simulated nymphal growth was also retarded, suggesting significant alterations to the life cycle. Two plecopteran species were affected only slightly by the different temperature regimes.

4. Overall, the simulations suggested that afforestation, by reducing summer temperatures, could lead to marked reductions in rates of development of some invertebrates and fish.