THE EFFECTS OF BEAVER DAMS ON BIOAVAILABLE DISSOLVED ORGANIC CARBON IN URBAN STREAMS
Many urban streams suffer from high inputs of highly labile bioavailable dissolved organic carbon (BDOC) from human waste from failing infrastructure and combined sewer overflows, which can fuel ongoing problems with microbial growth in urban streams, including human pathogens. Beaver populations are rebounding throughout the US and seem well adapted to living in urban streams. Beaver-created ponds and wetlands provide ideal sites for microbial processes that could process or remove this labile organic carbon from urban streams. We collected replicates of filtered stream water upstream and downstream of beaver dams in three urban streams in Atlanta, GA, USA and inoculated and incubated them to determine BDOC concentration. We saw consistently high BDOC in the upstream samples, consistent with patterns seen in other urban streams, and a decrease of BDOC in the downstream samples, suggesting removal of labile organic carbon can occur in beaver ponds or wetlands. These patterns demonstrate the potential for beaver activity to help restore water quality in urban streams and suggest that urban watershed managers should consider allowing beavers to remain in these systems or even fostering their colonization of impacted streams.
Elizabeth Sudduth (Primary Presenter/Author), Georgia Gwinnett College, email@example.com;