UBC Undergraduate Research

Characterizing the influence of forest cover changes on streamflow variability at Fishtrap Creek, British Columbia Muenter, Luisa


Modelling hydrologic recovery following a forest disturbance can assist forest managers to practice forest management while taking into account the hydrologic response of certain forest activities and disturbances. Using Vegetation Resource Inventory (VRI) data that are available on a province-wide scale, a results-based approach of looking at hydrologic recovery following a major fire was carried out on the Fishtrap Creek Watershed. Stands were modelled using the Chapman Richards growth model, and the data were predicted backwards through time for the period for which stream discharge measurements are available. The stand forest parameters are used to calculate a measure of Equivalent Clearcut Area (ECA) at the watershed scale for each year of data available. Climate variables and equivalent clear cut area were used in a regression model to separate their effects from those of a wildfire on the following streamflow metrics: timing of the onset of freshet, total freshet runoff, and the timing and magnitude of the annual peak flow. The analysis identified the timing of the onset of freshet as the most sensitive metric to forest cover change. The challenges in using currently available forest inventory data for hydrologic applications are also discussed.

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