One of the least understood aspects of aquatic ecology is the role of riparian zones of lakes, and how these habitats and their functions are impacted by human development of lakeshores. We investigated the effects of residential lakeshore development on littoral coarse woody debris (CWD) distribution and on riparian forest characteristics by comparing 18 lakes in the U.S. Pacific Northwest with 16 previously surveyed lakes in the U.S. Upper Midwest. Residential development had a strong negative effect on CWD and riparian forest characteristics at both local and whole-lake scales. There was a strong positive correlation between riparian forest density and littoral CWD abundance in both regions. We found regional variation in CWD and riparian forest characteristics, mostly owing to differences in native forests. Our results suggest the role of local processes in determining CWD distribution and point to potential regional differences in littoral habitat structure associated with forest composition and lakeshore development that may have consequences for littoral-pelagic coupling in lakes.
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Vol. 35 • No. 6