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SFS Annual Meeting

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BEAVERS TO BIRDS: THE INFLUENCE OF BEAVER RECOLONIZATION ON RIPARIAN BIRD COMMUNITIES

Aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems are linked by flows of materials known as resource subsidies. Habitat alterations in one ecosystem can alter the magnitude, timing, or form of these subsidies and cause cascading effects in recipient systems. Beaver populations are recovering in North America and recolonization of these ecosystem engineers can alter channel geomorphology by converting stream channels into complexes of ponds and wetlands. These changes in the physical characteristics of the aquatic habitat can cause shifts in aquatic insect communities from lotic to lentic communities. Changes in aquatic insect community structure can lead to changes in aquatic insect emergence and potentially influence riparian bird communities. We examined how beaver recolonization influenced stream habitat type (pool vs riffle), aquatic insect emergence, and riparian bird communities in Kimball Creek, CO from 2012-2015. We quantified aquatic insect emergence using floating emergence traps and assessed riparian bird communities using bird point counts. We predicted sites with beaver ponds would have higher aquatic insect emergence biomass and abundance, and consequently higher riparian bird species richness. This study elucidates how beaver recolonization may reconnect aquatic and terrestrial food webs previously severed by beaver extirpation.

Kelley Fritz (Primary Presenter/Author), Murray State University, k.a.fritz24@gmail.com;


Melanie Torres (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), University of Wyoming, melanie.l.torres@gmail.com;


Thomas Anderson (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Appalachian State University, anderstl@gmail.com;


Morgan Geile (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Murray State University, morgan.geile@gmail.com;


Ann Gilmore (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Murray State University, annfrancesgilmore@gmail.com;


Jon Ames (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Murray State University, AMESJF@uwec.edu;


Quintin Bergman (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Purdue University Fort Wayne, quintinbergman@gmail.com;


Howard Whiteman (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Watershed Studies Institute, Dept. of Biological Sciences, Murray State University, hwhiteman@murraystate.edu;