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Large, ancient landslides delivered preferred upstream habitats for coho salmon
Date:2/11/2013

overed a dry lakebed that formed some 22,500 years ago by a landslide and later drained in northern California's Eel River basin. That paper -- published Nov. 22, 2011, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences -- also connected landslides to a divergence of genetics in two present-day steelhead trout populations occupying the river.

Christine May, lead author of the new paper, said that Roering's work on landslides and her own previous observations led to the newly published research. May, a biologist at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va., at the time of the project was a visiting UO professor under the Meierjurgen Visiting Fellowship. While a graduate student at Oregon State University, she had seen broad valleys and productive fish habitats upstream of ancient landslides while doing fieldwork after 1996 floods.

"This observation had lingered in my mind over the years, and when Josh's study on predicting the occurrence of these large landslides on a landscape scale was published I became very excited to pursue this area of research with him," she said. "Correspondingly, my colleague Kelly Burnett with the U.S. Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station in Corvallis published a predictive model that mapped the location of potentially productive fish habitat in the same area as Josh mapped the large landslides."

Combing the two predictive models, May said: "It became apparent that there was a strong linkage between the occurrence of large landslides and the location of highly productive salmon habitat."

For the study, May, Roering, Burnett and L. Scott Eaton, also of James Madison University, went into the field, studying the architecture of river valleys. They used LiDAR provided by the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries, focusing on Harvey and Elk creeks -- part of the Umpqua River basin where Roering previously documented ancient landslides. Researchers measured the widths
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Contact: Jim Barlow
jebarlow@uoregon.edu
541-346-3481
University of Oregon
Source:Eurekalert  

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Large, ancient landslides delivered preferred upstream habitats for coho salmon
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