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Open AccessArticle

Assessing the Functional Response to Streamside Fencing of Pastoral Waikato Streams, New Zealand

Cawthron Institute, 98 Halifax Street East, Nelson 7010, New Zealand
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Water 2019, 11(7), 1347; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11071347
Received: 20 May 2019 / Revised: 21 June 2019 / Accepted: 26 June 2019 / Published: 29 June 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue A Systems Approach of River and River Basin Restoration)
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Abstract

In New Zealand, streamside fencing is a well-recognised restoration technique for pastoral waterways. However, the response of stream ecosystem function to fencing is not well quantified. We measured the response to fencing of eight variables describing ecosystem function and 11 variables describing physical habitat and water quality at 11 paired stream sites (fenced and unfenced) over a 30-year timespan. We hypothesised that (1) fencing would improve the state of stream ecosystem health as described by physical, water quality and functional indicators due to riparian re-establishment and (2) time since fencing would increase the degree of change from impacted to less-impacted as described by physical, water quality and functional indicators. We observed high site-to-site variability in both physical and functional metrics. Stream shade was the only measure that showed a significant difference between treatments with higher levels of shade at fenced than unfenced sites. Cotton tensile-strength loss was the only functional measurement that indicated a response to fencing and increased over time since treatment within fenced sites. Our results suggest that stream restoration by fencing follows a complex pathway, over a space-for-time continuum, illustrating the overarching catchment influence at a reach scale. Small-scale (less than 2% of the upstream catchment area) efforts to fence the riparian zones of streams appear to have little effect on ecosystem function. We suggest that repeated measures of structural and functional indicators of ecosystem health are needed to inform robust assessments of stream restoration. View Full-Text
Keywords: functional indicators; stream restoration; riparian vegetation; fencing; cotton tensile-strength loss; wood decay; ecosystem metabolism; organic matter transport; catchment restoration; structure-function relationships functional indicators; stream restoration; riparian vegetation; fencing; cotton tensile-strength loss; wood decay; ecosystem metabolism; organic matter transport; catchment restoration; structure-function relationships
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Doehring, K.; Clapcott, J.E.; Young, R.G. Assessing the Functional Response to Streamside Fencing of Pastoral Waikato Streams, New Zealand. Water 2019, 11, 1347.

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