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Cooling Beaver Dams

May 18, 2017

Beaver dams could protect trout populations from the effects of climate change.

Transcript

A beaver dam in the high desert. Julia Raskbull

A beaver dam and its surroundings. (Julia Raskbull)

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Can beavers save trout? I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Trout thrive in cold water and are threatened by the effects of climate change as their streams get warmer and warmer. Now aquatic ecologist Nick Weber at Eco Logical Research reports in the journal PLOS ONE that the fish have an unlikely ally: beavers. Weber and his colleagues tracked beaver activity and water temperature at an Oregon watershed for eight years. They found that beaver dams stabilize stream temperature, eliminating the fish-killing temperature spikes seen in streams without dams.

NICHOLAS WEBER (Eco Logical Research, Inc.):

Water becomes extremely scarce late in the season, it’s a very dry arid area — but by storing these huge amounts of surface water behind beaver ponds, we found that it just became much more resistant to the hot climate out in the high desert.

HIRSHON:

And Weber points out that beavers provide their stream-cooling services for free. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the Science Society.

Story by Bob Hirshon