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17

Beaver dams serve valuable purposes

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Beaver dams serve valuable purposes

To most people, beaver dams may look like a messy pile of sticks.

According to new studies, including this from Stanford University, beaver dams play a key role in improving water quality. Their benefits don’t end there!

Beavers build their dams across streams using trees, branches, grass and mud. The dams slow water flow enough to create a pond, where beavers can build their homes, safe from predators.

The Stanford study examined water quality in the Colorado River near Crested Butte over several months in 2018. The Colorado River, which supplies drinking water to several states in the southwestern United States, is facing drought conditions. The study found the improved water quality is “mitigating water degradation caused by drought and climate change.”

Low water levels can lead to concentrated mineral levels downstream, which can promote algae growth. When algae die, oxygen levels decrease in the water, negatively impacting the surrounding ecosystem.

As one of the researchers, Christian Dewey, took samples downstream from the beaver dam, he noticed improved water quality. Dewey concluded the dam was pushing water toward the banks of the stream, where it would filter through soil before resuming its flow.

One of Dewey’s colleagues on this research, Scott Fendorf, a science professor at Stanford, said to CapRadio, “This is a sign of why it's so important for us to have ecological preservation. Healthy people [come] from having a healthy planet, meaning a healthy, thriving ecosystem.”

A significant contributor to a thriving ecosystem is a lot more than a messy pile of sticks.

Photo taken by Scott Fendorf, appeared in Capradio.org

| Categories: | Tags: beaver, dam, water, quality, filter, stanford, christian, dewey, fendorf, scott, stream, colorado, river | View Count: (145) | Return
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