Great Expectations: Deconstructing the Process Pathways Underlying Beaver-related Restoration

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Beaver-related restoration is a process-based strategy that seeks to re-establish dam building in degraded stream systems by translocating beavers to streams where dams are desired, building artificial structures that mimic beaver dams, or restoring riparian vegetation to attract beavers. 

Although the beaver-related restoration has broad appeal, especially in water-limited systems, its effectiveness is not yet well documented. Researchers presented a “process-expectation framework” that links beaver-related restoration tactics to commonly expected outcomes. They identified process pathways that must occur to achieve expected outcomes, including unanticipated contingencies that hinder outcome prediction. The analysis of existing literature revealed that restoration outcomes rely on linked chains of processes and contingencies over which humans have limited control. Consequently, expectations often shift through the course of projects, suggesting that a more useful paradigm for evaluating process-based restoration would be to identify relevant processes, and rigorously document how projects do or do not proceed along expected process pathways. 

Nash, C.S., Charnley, S., Dunham, J.B., Gosnell, H., Grant, G.E., Hausner, M.B., Pilliod, D.S., Taylor, J.D., 2021, Great Expectations: Deconstructing the Process Pathways Underlying Beaver-Related Restoration: BioScience, https://doi.org/10.1093/biosci/biaa165 

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