With growing interest in beaver as a cost-effective restoration and conservation tool, much is made of the geomorphic responses that beaver's ecosystem engineering and dam building will yield. Yet surprisingly, no coherent framework for predicting and explaining what sort of specific responses we expect in what environments. Specifically, a masters student would focus on 1-2 of the following topics and a PhD would likely tackle all 3:
Using geomorphic change detection on a long-term, repeat topographic dataset of geomorphic dynamics across 100's of beaver dams and beaver dam analogues to more clearly identify and explain geomorphic mechanisms of change that shape beaver dam complexes through their life spans.
Using the Wheaton et al. (2015) fluvial taxonomy and our Geomorphic Unit Toolkit, develop a stronger empirical and conceptual basis for the geomorphic unit assemblages (i.e. landforms) that consistently make up beaver dams and beaver dam complexes, how these evolve through time and how these assemblages differ across different reach types
Build network riverscapes models that predict geomorphic responses to different degrees of beaver dam building activity throughout a watershed.