Use of woody debris piles by birds and small mammals in a riparian corridor
Steel, E. Ashley
Naiman, Robert J.
West, Stephen D.
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Woody debris piles, a natural component of rivers draining the coastal forests of the Pacific Northwest, provide a unique resource in the riparian-river corridor. We describe the distribution of woody debris piles on the Skykomish River, Washington, and examine their use by birds and small mammals. We found an average of one debris pile per 15 m of river bank; the inside of these piles was significantly cooler than the ambient environment. Over sixteen bird species were observed using the debris piles while other bird species in the area were never observed on the debris piles. The overall species richness of small mammals was greater at debris piles (9 species) than at reference sites in nearby areas without woody debris (4 species). On cobble bars, there was a greater abundance of small mammals at debris piles than at reference sites. We conclude that debris piles may provide valuable resources to both birds and small mammals particularly on otherwise barren cobble bars