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Influence of beaver mimicry restoration on habitat availability for fishes, including Arctic grayling (Thymallus arcticus)

Citation

Albertson, Lindsey (2022), Influence of beaver mimicry restoration on habitat availability for fishes, including Arctic grayling (Thymallus arcticus), Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.47d7wm3fq

Abstract

Beaver-dam-mimicry is an emergent conservation practice. We evaluated the influence of constructed riffles, a unique type of beaver mimicry aimed to store water and allow fish passage, on habitat for fishes in one control reach and one manipulated reach with mimicry structures added. The beaver mimicry reach had deeper pool habitats and deeper and wider riffle habitats compared to an unmanipulated control reach. Dissolved oxygen was similar among reaches, averaging 8.7 ± 0.2 and 8.9 mg/L in the beaver mimicry and control reaches, respectively. Sediment size was also similar among reaches, with a D50 of 8.1 and 10.6 mm in the beaver mimicry and control reaches, respectively. The beaver mimicry reach had little to no overhanging bank vegetation or riparian vegetation shade cover, while the control had 38% of its bank covered by canopy and 56% overhung by vegetation. These riparian characteristics result from a legacy of livestock grazing and lack of consistent vegetation planting during restoration. Longnose dace (Rhinichthys cataractae) and white sucker (Catostomus commersonii) dominated in the beaver mimicry reach, together comprising 70% of the fish assemblage post-structure installation. Arctic grayling (Thymallus arcticus) were not found in the beaver mimicry reach but were present in the control, albeit in small numbers of only 3% of the assemblage post-structure installation. These results highlight the need to consider both in-stream and riparian habitat features for fishes, as well as timescales of both hydrological and ecological outcomes in restoration design.

Funding

Montana State University

Nature Conservancy