Title

DISTRIBUTION AND HABITAT CHARACTERISTICS OF BEAVERS IN THE UPPER CLARK FORK RIVER BASIN

Presenter Information

Luke Stappler

Presentation Type

Presentation

Abstract

The Upper Clark Fork River Basin (UCFRB) is the largest Superfund site in the United States; the State of Montana is now in the process of remediating the damage following 100 years of mining from Butte westward. In order to develop reclamation plans, current conditions need to be clarified. Wildlife normally found in such riparian zones can be used as indicators of current conditions and provide a useful metric for success of remediation efforts. Beavers were one species that were historically abundant in this and similar ecosystems, but have appeared to decline over the past many decades. Beavers are an important species by serving as ecosystem engineers in such riparian ecosystems. Ecosystem engineers are animals that create or modify habitats. The purpose of this study was to determine how much beaver activity there is in the UCFRB between Warm Springs and Turah, Montana, and what the environmental characteristics of beaver habitation are in the UCFRB. We identified beaver activity by floating the river and marking the GPS coordinates for each active beaver lodge. We then determined which habitat characteristics are important for beaver occurrence by comparing 7 habitat variables which described topography, vegetation, and stream characteristics at 19 active beaver lodges and 22 random sites. Using an Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) to determine which characteristics are significantly different between active and random sites, we developed a predictive model for beaver activity. This research established a baseline of beaver activity throughout the UCFRB, and it identified which habitat characteristics are associated with beaver habitation in the UCFRB. Documenting their current populations will serve as a baseline to see how restoration affects river health and the expansion of this species.

Category

Life Sciences

This document is currently not available here.

Share

COinS
 
Apr 15th, 10:20 AM Apr 15th, 10:40 AM

DISTRIBUTION AND HABITAT CHARACTERISTICS OF BEAVERS IN THE UPPER CLARK FORK RIVER BASIN

UC 331

The Upper Clark Fork River Basin (UCFRB) is the largest Superfund site in the United States; the State of Montana is now in the process of remediating the damage following 100 years of mining from Butte westward. In order to develop reclamation plans, current conditions need to be clarified. Wildlife normally found in such riparian zones can be used as indicators of current conditions and provide a useful metric for success of remediation efforts. Beavers were one species that were historically abundant in this and similar ecosystems, but have appeared to decline over the past many decades. Beavers are an important species by serving as ecosystem engineers in such riparian ecosystems. Ecosystem engineers are animals that create or modify habitats. The purpose of this study was to determine how much beaver activity there is in the UCFRB between Warm Springs and Turah, Montana, and what the environmental characteristics of beaver habitation are in the UCFRB. We identified beaver activity by floating the river and marking the GPS coordinates for each active beaver lodge. We then determined which habitat characteristics are important for beaver occurrence by comparing 7 habitat variables which described topography, vegetation, and stream characteristics at 19 active beaver lodges and 22 random sites. Using an Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) to determine which characteristics are significantly different between active and random sites, we developed a predictive model for beaver activity. This research established a baseline of beaver activity throughout the UCFRB, and it identified which habitat characteristics are associated with beaver habitation in the UCFRB. Documenting their current populations will serve as a baseline to see how restoration affects river health and the expansion of this species.