This summer our interns began working on a Beaver monitoring project in the Jijuktu’kwejk watershed. The purpose of this project was to see if beaver dam areas correlated with greater biodiversity, better water quality, and better riparian health as apposed to areas without beaver activity. This was all done with the end goal being the identification of potential Beaver Dam Analog sites.
What are Beaver Dam Analogs?
Beaver Dam Analogs are devices made from wood and natural materials that are meant to mimic beaver dams and encourage dam building. They are placed in areas facing problems with erosion, water quality, embedded sediment, or general low biodiversity. Our interns compared six sites in this project, three with dams and three without. These areas were surveyed and monitored by bird surveys, aquatic invertebrate surveys, fish surveys, riparian health assessments, water quality testing, and temperature monitoring.
How did it go?
We found that areas with beaver dams had greater health and biodiversity on average across the board! There are many areas on the Jijuktu’kwejk River that suffer from poor water quality, erosion, and lack of connectivity to the flood plain. There were two areas identified in this study that are now candidate sites for Beaver Dam Analog structures. We hope that if this means of restoration provides better fish habitat and water quality in our test candidate sites that these could be implemented in the future across the tributaries of the river suffering from habitat degradation. Our interns had a great time identifying and surveying these sites and found that many of the beaver dam areas provided suitable spawning conditions for native fish species including Atlantic Salmon. The river needs more suitable spawning habitat for fish as the sandy materials that fall from the banks due to erosion cover the gravel beds they require as an important part of their spawning process. Stay tuned to hear about our upcoming beaver projects!
Conclusion: Beavers are awesome.