Wetlands created by beaver dams hold back water, soaking and spreading as beaver create channels throughout the floodplain. The stream’s reduced speed due to damming allows collected water to seep into the ground where it encourages deep plant roots and an abundance of wildlife to thrive. These activities halt fires and make it difficult for them to spread, as well as provide an oasis for wildlife. Recovery from fires is also improved where there are beaver dams. For more information on wildfires and beaver, visit Dr. Emily Fairfax’s website.
*photo by Dr. Joe Wheaton
Where there are beavers, water is accumulated, lessening the impacts of drought. By soaking and spreading the water throughout the landscape, beaver activity provides insurance for plants and other animals, including humans during dry periods. In a study in Nevada, beaver ponds stayed green throughout normal summertime droughts, as well as a prolonged 3-year drought.
*photo by Allison Del Gizzi
WATER QUALITY & PROTECTION
Freshwater wetlands have been dubbed by the US EPA and others as the “Earth’s kidneys”. Just as animals have kidneys filtering our bloodstream to remove unwanted waste products and contaminants, freshwater wetlands behave similarly: removing unwanted fertilizers, toxic metals and sediment from our streams, and preventing algae blooms. Beaver ponds recharge groundwater, which resurfaces as colder water downstream. As air and water temperatures continue to rise from human impacts, cool, clean water will be invaluable for all living things.
*photo by Joel Deckler
Beavers are a keystone species, ecosystem engineers who create, modify, and maintain critical ecosystems for inspects, birds, mammals, fish, plants, and trees. Like wolves and bison, the presence of a beaver in an ecosystem cascades everywhere, all at once, having a significant impact on biodiversity. Many species are highly dependent upon beavers for their survival, including 50 percent of North America’s threatened or endangered species.
*image courtesy of Worth a Dam/Heidi Perryman
SALMON & TROUT RECOVERY
Beavers, salmon, and trout co-evolved wherein beaver activities provide harbor and habitat for fish. Fallen trees serve as protection for juvenile fish and as a study in Washington state found, bigger and more numerous juvenile salmon are found in streams with beaver dams.
*photo by Ryan Hagerty
Wetlands cover approximately six to nine per cent of the Earth’s surface and contain about 35 per cent of global terrestrial carbon. Research shows that wetlands can remove carbon from the atmosphere at a rate 10 times greater than tropical forests. They also store three to five times more carbon per acre than tropical forests. (Includes links to research)