Northwest Fisheries Science Center

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Document Type: Journal Article
Center: NWFSC
Document ID: 8488
Title: Ecosystem experiment reveals benefits of beaver assisted restoration to a population of E.S.A. listed steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss)
Author: Nicolaas Bouwes, Nicholas Weber, Chris E. Jordan, Michael M. Pollock, W. Carl Saunders, Ian A. Tattam, Carol Volk, Joseph M. Wheaton
Publication Year: 2016
Journal: Scientific Reports
Keywords: Beaver,restoration effectiveness monitoring,trout

Beaver have been referred to as ecosystem engineers because of the large impacts they have on the landscape; however, the benefits their dam building activities may provide to fluvial fish species is subject to debate.  We conducted a watershed scale restoration experiment to improve freshwater production of steelhead trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), by adding beaver dam analogs to increase dam and colony persistence in a highly degraded incised stream.  We observed significant increases in abundance, survival, and production of juvenile steelhead without sacrifice to migrations following the installation of the dam analogs and increases in natural beaver dams relative to our control watershed.  The steelhead response occurred as the quantity and complexity of their habitat increased.  This study is the first to quantify the benefits of restoration to a fish population and their habitat by partnering with beaver.  We also demonstrated that beaver mediated natural process restoration can be accomplished for a small fraction of the costs of common floodplain restoration practices.  

Theme: Habitats to Support Sustainable Fisheries and Recovered Populations
Foci: Develop effective and efficient habitat restoration and conservation techniques.
Characterize relationships between habitat and ecosystem processes, climate variation, and the viability of organisms.