Document Type


Journal/Book Title/Conference

Research On Capitol Hill 2014

Publication Date


Faculty Mentor

Bethany Neilson


Beaver dams have significant impacts on the hydrology, temperature, biogeochemical processes, and geomorphology of streams and riparian areas. They have also been used as a viable tool in restoring impaired riverine systems. Due to the dynamic nature of beaver dams, these impacts vary and are difficult to quantify. To begin understanding the impacts of dam complexes on riverine systems, we developed a 1-D hydraulic model to compare hydraulic responses for a reach that includes seven dams and a reach with no dams present. We also compared observations of substrate sizes, gradients, and geomorphic/habitat units for each reach. Results indicated an alteration of the run-riffle-pool sequence, decreased flow velocities, and increased depths through the beaver impacted reach. These geomorphic and hydraulic adjustments are consistent with observed changes in the increased variability in sediment size distributions. Along with decreasing flow velocities and the storage and distribution of sediments, beaver impacted reaches showed the opportunity for greater channel and bank stability and increased habitat complexity. In general, these data and model results suggest that many common stream restoration goals could be met through the introduction of beavers. Funding for this research was made available through the Engineering Undergraduate Research Program.