g , Rathburn et al , 2009)? I use the existence of beaver meadows

g., Rathburn et al., 2009)? I use the existence of beaver meadows along headwater mountain streams in the Colorado Front Range to illustrate some of the ideas proposed in the previous section. Beaver (Castor canadensis in North America and C. fiber in Eurasia)

are considered ecosystem engineers that change, maintain, or create habitats by altering the availability of biotic and abiotic resources for themselves and other species ( Rosell et al., 2005). The most important ecosystem engineering undertaken by beaver is the construction and maintenance of low dams of wood and sediment. Beaver build dams on even very steep (>7% gradient) and narrow rivers, but where stream gradient is less than 3% and the valley bottom is at least two or three Vorinostat mw times the active channel width, numerous closely spaced beaver dams can create beaver meadows ( Fig. 3). Torin 1 in vitro Dams vary from 7 to 74 per km along low gradient streams, with a typical value of 10 dams per km ( Pollock et al., 2003). Beaver meadows – large, wet meadows associated with overbank flooding caused by numerous beaver dams along a stream – were first described in Rocky Mountain National Park by Ives (1942), but the term is now more widely used. A beaver dam creates a channel

obstruction and backwater that enhances the magnitude, duration and spatial extent of overbank flow (Westbrook et al., 2006). Shallow flows across topographically irregular floodplains concentrate in depressions and this, along with excavation of a network of small, winding ‘canals’ across the floodplain by beaver (Olson and Hubert, 1994), promotes an anabranching channel planform (John and Klein, 2004). Overbank flows enhance infiltration, hyporheic exchange, and a high riparian water Phospholipase D1 table (Westbrook et al., 2006 and Briggs et al., 2012). Attenuation of flood

peaks through in-channel and floodplain storage promotes retention of finer sediment and organic matter (Pollock et al., 2007) and enhances the diversity of aquatic and riparian habitat (Pollock et al., 2003 and Westbrook et al., 2011). By hydrologically altering biogeochemical pathways, beaver influence the distribution, standing stocks, and availability of nutrients (Naiman et al., 1994). Beaver ponds and meadows disproportionately retain carbon and other nutrients (Naiman et al., 1986, Correll et al., 2000 and Wohl et al., 2012). As long as beaver maintain their dams, the associated high water table favors riparian deciduous species such as willow (Salix spp.), cottonwood (Populus spp.) and aspen (Populus spp.) that beaver prefer to eat, and limits the encroachment of coniferous trees and other more xeric upland plants. Beaver thus create (i) enhanced lateral connectivity between the channel and floodplain, enhanced vertical connectivity between surface and ground water, and limited longitudinal connectivity because of multiple dams ( Burchsted et al.

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