Created on: March 17, 2013
The power of flowing water is astounding. Consider the Grand Canyon. The Colorado River that flows through the bottom of that Canyon etched away the rock for many centuries, wearing away the stone to create a canyon many, many times greater than the river itself. Flowing rivers have the tendency to erode stone, soil, and bedrock. It's not a question of whether or not water will be able to wear away a solid structure. The only question is how long it will take. This is one of many reasons why the root structure of trees along river banks is vital to structure retention.
Without the roots of trees along riverbanks, rivers can erode river banks, causing the mud and soil to fall into the river itself, eventually changing what could begin as a deep river into one that gets wide and shallow. This change increases the surface area of a river, giving the water a greater chance of being evaporated, which lesses the annual duration the river exists in the case of small rivers. It can also change whether or not fish and other species are able to exist in the river.
The process of logging doesn't just aid the erosion of riverbanks, however. Because of the heavy, fossil-fuel-reliant machinery involved in logging, from chainsaws to trucks and bulldozers, rivers become polluted through the dissolved carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide released from burning fuel. Oil spills and machine maintenance can also lead to river pollution.
Many species that are subject to the effects of light pollution include nocturnal animals like bats and owls, but river-dwelling creatures also do poorly when the night is lit. Logging endeavors rarely cease at night. Instead, the area is flooded with light and this disrupts the natural sleep cycle of nearby forest inhabitants.
Some animals, like beavers, rely not just on the presence of a clean, flowing river, but also require trees and old growth from which they can gather necessary building materials for building dams. Debris that falls naturally into a river, like fallen branches and logs from nearby trees provide shelter for many species of fish. When the trees are gone, where do the fallen logs and branches come from?
Logging changes the habitats of creatures that rely on rivers and trees by changing the way the river flows, the nature of the river itself, the degree of pollution in that river, and the combination of tress in the river that provide natural habitation for many animals.
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How does logging affect rivers?