Beaver Study

Juvenile Coho Salmon Use of Beaver Habitat

beaver

The ecological engineering activities of the North American beaver (Castor canadensis) have been shown to provide beneficial habitat for salmonids species including coho salmon and to increase overall biodiversity of small streams and surrounding ecosystems. However, data that documents beaver importance to coastal rivers and tributaries is in short supply despite beavers being common in many coastal rivers.

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BEAVER BANK LODGE USE, DISTRIBUTION AND INFLUENCE ON SALMONID REARING HABITAT IN THE SMITH RIVER, CALIFORNIA
by Marisa Parish

The undammed Smith River is a unique setting to study relationships among beavers and salmonids. In 2014, Smith River Alliance initiated a study of juvenile coho salmon use of beaver and non-beaver altered habitats in the Smith River coastal plain and estuary. The effort was completed in collaboration with California Department of Fish and Wildlife and Humboldt State University through the work of graduate student Marisa Parish. This research was an extension of SRA estuary monitoring and Inventory of Juvenile Salmonid Rearing Habitat in the Smith River Plain, which was supported with funding from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife Fisheries Restoration Grant Program and Smith River Alliance.

Marisa’s study focused on beaver bank lodge site selection and distribution to better understand beaver habitat preferences in coastal rivers. This research also evaluated the influence of beaver bank lodges on salmonid summer and winter rearing habitat. Results from this study provide insight on how beavers influence coastal rivers and can inform management and restoration efforts to help promote healthy beaver populations and the various salmonid rearing habitats they create.