Modeling Potential Beaver Habitat for Restoring Riparian Ecosystems

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Beaver have the potential to restore riparian ecosystems and offset potential effects of climate change by modulating streamflow through dam-building and subsequent water storage.

Identifying sites for reintroducing beaver requires detailed information about habitat, which is lacking at broad spatial scales. In a study in the Snohomish River Basin in Washington, university, federal, and tribal researchers explored the potential for beaver relocation using a model based on remotely sensed data related to stream gradient, stream width, and valley width to identify where beaver could become established. Their model showed that 33% of streams over the 5,019 kilometers examined had moderate or high intrinsic potential for beaver habitat. Beaver were absent from nearly three quarters of potentially suitable sites, indicating that there are factors preventing occupation, such as current land use and ownership. This approach offers a method for estimating the potential for beaver habitat using readily available data.  

Dittbrenner, B.J., Pollack, M.M., Schilling, J.W., Olden, J.D., Lawler, J.J., Torgersen, C.E., 2018, Modeling intrinsic potential for beaver (Castor canadensis) habitat to inform restoration and climate change adaptation: PLoS ONE, v. 13, no. 2, p. E0192538,

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Date published: November 20, 2017
Status: Active

Aquatic & Landscape Ecology Team (FRESC)

Fresh waters are one of the most valuable and threatened resources worldwide. They supply critical services to society and harbor many of the world’s most imperiled species. We conduct research and provide technical assistance to address challenges to fresh waters. Our research focuses on ecological processes in freshwater and terrestrial systems and the effects of those processes on landscape...