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SFS Annual Meeting

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High conductivity is common in urban streams, whether due to human wastewater, road salting, or general non-point source pollution, and is easily measured by municipalities as a proxy for more expensive water quality parameters. 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 remove many of the ions contributing to conductivity in urban streams. We deployed pairs of conductivity loggers in two urban stream-wetland systems in Atlanta, GA, USA to explore the potential for beaver activity to improve water quality at these sites. Conductivity consistently decreased as the stream flowed through the beaver pond. This change was particularly pronounced following storms: storms led to a decrease in conductivity throughout the system, and the increase in conductivity following storm flow was significantly greater upstream of the beaver dam than downstream. 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 or even fostering their colonization of impacted streams.

Logan Williams (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Georgia Gwinnett College, ;

Elizabeth Sudduth (Primary Presenter/Author), Georgia Gwinnett College,;