Navigation Links
Beaver dams create healthy downstream ecosystems

Beavers, long known for their beneficial effects on the environment near their dams, are also critical to maintaining healthy ecosystems downstream. Researchers have found that ponds created by beaver dams raised downstream groundwater levels in the Colorado River valley, keeping soil water levels high and providing moisture to plants in the otherwise dry valley bottom. The results will be published 8 June in Water Resources Research, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.

Cherie Westbrook of Colorado State University and colleagues there and at the U.S. Geological Survey in Fort Collins, Colorado, conducted a three-year study in Rocky Mountain National Park, examining valley ecosystems downstream in the Colorado River. They noted that water diverted by beaver dams is forced out of the natural stream channel and spreads across and down the valley for hundreds of meters [yards]. In addition, dams built on the river changed the direction of groundwater flow in the valley. The changes caused water to infiltrate the river banks and flow underground toward the sides of the valley, instead of down the center of the valley.

The researchers suggest that the elevated moisture levels found in soil surrounding the dams would otherwise require water from a very large natural flood, which they estimate as the 200-year flood, to achieve the same expansive water availability to the valley bottom. Additionally, beaver dams built away from natural river channels further redirect water across the valley, enhancing the depth, extent, and duration of inundation associated with smaller floods; they also elevate the water table to sustain plant and animal life during the dry summer season.

"This study broadens the view of the importance of beaver in the valley bottoms beyond the upstream ponds," Westbrook said. "We found that upstream ponds were not the main hydrologic effect of the dams in the Colorado River valley. Instead, the beaver dams greatly enhanced hydrologic processes during the peak flow and low flow periods, suggesting that beaver can create and maintain environments suitable for the formation and persistence of wetlands."

The study comes as the beaver population in Rocky Mountain National Park is dwindling. Approximately 30 of the animals currently live there, down from a high of nearly 600 estimated in 1940. The authors caution that additional reductions in the population could harm the current hydrologic balance in the river valley and affect the area's water cycle and soil conditions, potentially changing plant species and influencing the overall diversity of the ecosystem in the future. They suggest that although there are multiple explanations for the reduction in beaver population, such as alterations in the flow along the Colorado River, similar hydrologic effects downstream likely affect river systems worldwide.


'"/>

Source:American Geophysical Union


Related biology news :

1. Chemists create Superbowl molecule; May lead to better health
2. Deficiency of growth hormone and IGF-1 reduces cancer and kidney disease, but creates other problems
3. RNA project to create language for scientists worldwide
4. Researcher gets NSF grant to create mutant maize lines
5. Breakthrough: Scientists create worlds tiniest organic particles
6. NIH creates nationwide network of molecular libraries screening centers
7. Researchers create infectious hepatitis C virus in a test tube
8. Ants, not evil spirits, create devils gardens in the Amazon rainforest, study finds
9. Researchers create functioning artificial proteins using natures rules
10. Scientists create digital bacteria to forge advances in biomedical research
11. Student scientists create living bacterial photographs
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:


(Date:6/2/2016)... LONDON , June 2, 2016 ... Systems, Manned Platforms, Unmanned Systems, Physical Infrastructure, Support & ... intelligence provider visiongain offers comprehensive analysis of ... that this market will generate revenues of $17.98 billion ... Systems acquired DVTEL Inc, a leader in software and ...
(Date:5/20/2016)... 20, 2016  VoiceIt is excited to announce ... By working together, VoiceIt and VoicePass ... and VoicePass take slightly different approaches to voice ... security and usability. ... new partnership. "This marketing and technology ...
(Date:5/9/2016)... -- Elevay is currently known as the ... high net worth professionals seeking travel for work   ... there is still no substitute for a face-to-face meeting. ... deal with a firm handshake. This is why wealthy ... citizenship via investment programs like those offered by the ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/27/2016)... ... June 27, 2016 , ... Rolf K. Hoffmann, former ... of the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School effective June ... UNC Kenan-Flagler, with a focus on the school’s international efforts, leading classes and ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... 24, 2016 Epic Sciences unveiled a ... susceptible to PARP inhibitors by targeting homologous recombination ... The new test has already been incorporated into ... cancer types. Over 230 clinical trials ... pathways, including PARP, ATM, ATR, DNA-PK and WEE-1. ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... Wausau, WI (PRWEB) , ... June 23, 2016 ... ... probiotic supplements, is pleased to announce the launch of their brand, UP4™ Probiotics, ... supplements for over 35 years, is proud to add Target to its list ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... -- Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital has signed a ... serve as their official health care provider. As ... provide sponsorship support, athletic training services, and most ... athletes and families. "We are excited ... to bring Houston Methodist quality services and programs ...
Breaking Biology Technology: