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Terrestrial fauna are agents and endpoints in ecosystem restoration following dam removal

June 1, 2018

Dam removal is an effective and increasingly applied river restoration strategy. This has led to heightened calls for research and monitoring aimed at understanding physical and ecological outcomes following dam removal. While such research programs have increased, roles of terrestrial fauna in the restoration process remain poorly understood, although wildlife and invertebrate fauna are key components of restored ecosystems. Wildlife play reciprocal roles in restoration: they benefit from restored habitats and their activities affect restoration trajectories. Dam removal exposes substrates on former reservoirs and reconnects river corridors, providing new habitat and food resources for terrestrial fauna. Conversely, many wildlife may influence the river restoration process, with both short-term and long-term consequences for community composition, nutrient transfer, and ecosystem function. We assert that considering terrestrial fauna more directly in river restoration research and planning can enhance restoration outcomes. We illustrate these concepts by describing short-term patterns and potential future processes expected from the recent removal of two large dams on the Elwha River in Washington State, the largest dam removal effort ever undertaken. We conclude that an ecosystem-level understanding of restoration following dam removal is critical to fully assessing the impacts and benefits of restoration. This includes measuring the roles and responses of terrestrial fauna to these ecologically and culturally significant restoration projects.

Publication Year 2019
Title Terrestrial fauna are agents and endpoints in ecosystem restoration following dam removal
DOI 10.3368/er.36.2.97
Authors Rebecca McCaffery, John P. McLaughlin, Kim Sager-Fradkin, Kurt J. Jenkins
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Ecological Restoration
Index ID 70204494
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center