When introduced to any region, beavers can have a good impact on the environment. It even includes places like the Moab Desert in Utah. And that’s exactly what a team of academics did.
(Photo: Getty Images)
How beavers have a positive impact on their environment
A Utah State University student began moving beavers collected from other areas of the state to tiny failing waters along the Price and San Rafael rivers in search of a solution to the drought and fires forest.
The delicate nature of desert hydrology is interesting. There is much less rain in tropical ecosystems than in temperate habitats, which means many stay dry or have little trickles of water for long periods of time.
Many tiny and sensitive waterways in Utah have been heavily polluted by decades of pollution and agricultural runoff.
Beaver dams have been shown to dramatically improve the quality of wetlands and streams, which in turn improves the health of rivers, according to Good News Network.
Emma Doden became interested in the “ecosystem engineer” because of this service, even though the concept of beavers in the desert “raised a few eyebrows”.
Doden specializes in the passive restoration of the Price and San Rafael rivers, which flow through some of the driest areas of eastern Utah.
There were a lot more beavers in the system than scientists thought, and they wanted to increase it with displaced beavers, Doden said.
After infiltrating urban areas, the beavers that were displaced would have been killed, so scientists’ efforts offer them a second opportunity.
Also read: Due to illegal rewilding, the number of wild beavers across Scotland suddenly jumped to 1,000
Benefits of the Beaver Dam on the ecosystem
An investigation into how beaver dams can defend against forest fires found that beaver dams are becoming a popular and inexpensive method of building climate resilience on a landscape scale.
During dry seasons, they effectively protect riparian ecosystems from droughts by slowing down and storing water that can be used by riparian plants. Beaver dams have been shown to store huge amounts of sediment, which is then distributed more safely throughout the river ecosystem.
Beaver dams can help keep streams clean, regardless of the circumstances of sedimentation, according to research findings, which have indicated this to be true both in naturally wild areas and near rivers. heavily cultivated areas.
Due to agricultural runoff, waterways and ocean habitats can be severely degraded due to silt reducing light, smothering corals and creating harmful algal blooms.
(Photo: Getty Images)
Get the beavers to build dams
Beavers are moved into the desert at the initiative of Doden University, where they will create dams to defend against forest fires and keep streams clean.
Ultimately, “the ultimate goal is to get them to build dams. Dams will increase habitat complexity and restore water,” Doden said.
Doden and his colleagues released more than 50 beavers in the area during the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 dam construction seasons, some of which migrated upstream up to 12 miles to build their dams.
Research on building dams and restoring rivers in arid contexts is scarce, according to Doden. Research in other biomes, however, suggests the effort will be a resounding success, as millions of beavers used to crouch on Utah’s rivers to rest.
Associated article: Beavers to be released back into the wild in England with legal protection
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