• canopy volume growth;
  • moisture content;
  • plant survival;
  • residential development;
  • riparian area

Downed woody material (DWM) is an important ecosystem component that performs many critical functions including influencing soil temperature and moisture, which affects plant growth and survival. Residential development along lakeshores has increased dramatically in recent decades in the northern Great Lakes region. Such development often leads to reductions in terrestrial and aquatic woody material. Although lakeshore restoration projects have occurred in the past few years in the region, there has been little effort to evaluate success. In 2007, a collaborative lakeshore restoration research project began on two lakes in Vilas County, Wisconsin. We investigated the benefits of the addition of DWM as part of these restoration projects. We randomly assigned three coverage treatments (0, 25, and 50%) of DWM on 3 × 3–m experimental plots (n = 10 per treatment) and monitored soil temperature and volumetric soil water content at a depth of 10 cm. All plots were planted with two native shrub species and five native understory herbaceous species. Mean maximum soil temperature, mean difference in daily high and low soil temperature, and percent change in soil moisture content were significantly lower in the 25 and 50% DWM plots. Plant canopy volume growth for snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus) and Barren strawberry (Waldstenia fragaroides) was significantly greater in the 25 and 50% DWM plots. We conclude that the addition of DWM had a significant positive effect on regulating soil temperature extremes, soil moisture, and plant volume growth for two species of native plants used for restoration projects.