2020 Undergraduate Research Showcase
 

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date

4-24-2020

Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Emily Wakild

Abstract

In the last decade, scientific research, news stories, and documentaries have highlighted the value that nature’s ecological engineers can bring to various ecosystems. After hunting and trapping led to the near extinction of beavers in Idaho, there has been an increasing popularity in using beavers (Castor canadensis) in habitat restoration projects. Beavers build dams that create complex habitats and increase biodiversity. Furthermore, research has shown that beaver dams dramatically alter streamside vegetation, increase groundwater elevations, increase stream productivity, and provide fish habitat. Due to the vast information available regarding the benefits of using beavers in restoration projects, this study aims to analyze the social challenges to the reintegration of beavers in Southwest Idaho.

In recent years, beaver-related projects have become more popular in semi-arid and arid regions in the Western United States. This study analyzes three successful beaver-related restoration projects in Idaho. Analyzing these case studies provides an opportunity to view the ways beavers have been used in restoring Idaho’s lands. An integral part of understanding the challenges to the reintegration of beavers in Idaho through these restoration practices means understanding how they are perceived publicly. I provide a map that includes data on beaver observances and human-population data to better understand how the perception of beavers can be correlated to human populations in the Southwest region. The goal of this study is to identify social constraints stakeholders may have in reintroducing beavers to the and provide recommendations on how to capitalize on the benefits of using beavers in restoration projects in Idaho.

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