News & Announcements
Utah Geological Association as part of their luncheon series titled 'The many hats of beaver: Ecosystem Engineer, Geologic Agent and Restoration Practitioner'.
North American beaver (Castor canadensis) were once trapped to near extinction for their pelts, which made fashionable top hats. Fortunately, for beaver and us, though extirpated in many areas top hats went out of fashion. Beaver populations are now recovering and we increasingly recognize their value as ecosystem engineers. Specifically, their dam building activities cause a cascade of hydrologic, geomorphic and ecological feedbacks that in-turn are critical to creating and sustaining complex, healthy habitat in rivers, streams and wetlands for a diverse range of flora and fauna. This recognition has elevated their status to a restoration practitioner in many parts of the country, including here in Utah, where beaver are actively used to help restore streams. From a geologic perspective, beaver excavate modest amounts of sediment to pack into their dams, but their dams and associated wetlands, floodplains and overfllow channels are sinks for massive quantities of sediment. In fact, in many of Utah's headwater streams (e.g. first to third order), the presence of valley bottoms is difficult to explain without the presence of beaver over the Holocene. That is, in what would otherwise be confined valleys, layers upon, layers of relic beaver dams filled in with sediment have raised up the valley floor. These beaver-pond and floodplain deposits do not have the same characteristics of traditional floodplains, and tend to exhibit a stepped morphology longitudinally, representing the forced nature of the flooding (i.e. forced by dams). We have taken advantage of these characteristics in incised channels and are using beaver to aggrade degraded systems and restore such channels. A mix of stories and anecdotes will be shared about the many hats of beaver, as well as some data and findings from some of our ongoing research into beaver and the profound geomorphic impact they have.
relocation of 'nuisance' beaver in the Yakima Watershed in Washington for use as a restoration tool. The article, 'Often Pesky Beavers Put to Work Restoring Streams' was picked up by many news outlets, and resulted in an interesting interview of Mel Babik on NPR's Weekend Edition titled 'Researchers Say Beavers Are More Than Simple Pests'. This is another promising example of getting the word out on beaver as a restoration partner.
KRCL (90.9 FM)'s RadioActive all about Beavers: Nature's Engineer. Listen to the interview here.
Earlier this summer, colleagues Brain Greene from USU Water Watch, Nick Bouwes (Eco Logical Research), Wally MacFarlane (USU ETAL), Martha Jensen (USU ETAL) and Joe all did a field visit up Logan Canyon with KCPW producer Ross Chambless. Ross put together a radio segment based on the visit that aired July 13th, 2014 on 'Beaver Dam Mapping App Now Available for Citizen Scientists' .
recent post in USU Today on ET-AL researchers work published in Bioscience.
See also ET-AL post on Bioscience Article.
BRAT and help UDWR better manage beavers, take part in monitoring beaver using our new Beaver Monitoring App (developed by EcoTech Solutions in Partnership with Utah State University Extension)!
Joe Wheaton and Patrick Belmont (USU) joined a working group of researchers at the USGS's Powell Center in Fort Collins, CO to explore 'Exploiting high resolution topography data for advancing the understanding of mass and energy transfer across landscapes: Opportunities, challenges, and needs'. The group is led by Patrick Belmont and Paola Passalacqua, and will meet three times over the next year to work on a state of the science synthesis and potential edited volume. Thanks to the USGS Powell Center for their support of this important effort.
Joe will give a talk at the Restoring the West conference on October 17th from 2:00 to 2:30 on "Beaver: Restoration liaison between riparian and upland systems".
See here for talk:
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