Date of Award

5-2012

Degree Type

Report

Degree Name

Master of Natural Resources (MNR)

First Advisor

Brett Roper

Abstract

Removal of beaver across the North America landscape from the 1600s through the 1800s has played a major influence on the alteration of stream and riparian resources. Degradation of riparian habitats has negatively impacted many wildlife and fish species, including species listed under the Endangered Species Act. The ability of beavers to modify stream ecosystems offers a unique opportunity to restore these habitats. Many private and government agencies are working towards using beaver as a restoration tool, not only for better functioning ecosystems but also to benefit humans. Taking the big picture look, beaver and their ability to modify the environment are viewed by describing the ecological benefits and impacts to stream ecosystems and influences on fish habitat and populations; analyzing landscape and habitat attributes influencing beaver distribution using data from a large scale stream and riparian monitoring program (Pacfish/Infish Biological Opinion Effectiveness Monitoring (PIBO EM); the human dimension aspects and how beaver can be used to benefit humans in a sustainability framework; the economic incentives of using beaver for stream restoration; and, policies, laws, and administrative considerations associated with beaver.

PIBO EM Preliminary data from PIBO EM suggests that as beaver populations make a comeback they will occupy a diverse range of habitats. The data demonstrates that beaver occupy a wide range of landscape characteristics and site habitats, but particular attributes are more important than others in determining where beaver are present. The overlap of so many landscape, site, and vegetation attributes between sites with and without beaver activity and given the vast majority of PIBO EM sites are currently without beaver, indicates that many areas may already be suitable for beaver occupation, providing optimism for beaver restoration opportunities. Many groups and organizations are spending money, effort, and time into developing habitat criteria and habitat suitability indexes for beaver reintroductions. Collaborative efforts with PIBO EM would offer data and information from a large geographical area, saving valuable resources to be used for more effective beaver management. Although beaver populations have been affected by removal from trapping and loss of habitat through urbanization, as beaver populations increase they will occupy much of their former range, restoring degraded habitats for the betterment of both mankind and fish and wildlife.

2-6-2014