Munir, T.M., and Westbrook, C.J.
Beaver dam analogue configurations influence stream and riparian water table dynamics of a degraded spring-fed creek in the Canadian Rockies
Munir, T.M., and Westbrook, C.J. 2021. Beaver dam analogue configurations influence stream and riparian water table dynamics of a degraded spring-fed creek in the Canadian Rockies, River Research and Applications, 37(3), 330-342. https://doi.org/10.1002/rra.3753
Beaver dam analogues (BDAs) are intended to simulate natural beaver dam ecohydrological functions including modifying stream hydrology and enhancing stream-riparian hydrological connectivity. River restoration practitioners are proactively deploying BDAs in thousands of degraded streams. How various BDAs or their configurations impact stream hydrology and the riparian water table remains poorly understood. We investigated three types of BDA configurations (single, double and triple) in a spring-fed Canadian Rocky Mountain stream over three study seasons (April–October; 2017–2019). All three BDA configurations significantly elevated the upstream stage. The deepest pools occurred upstream of the triple-configuration BDAs (0.46 m) and the shallowest pools occurred upstream of the single-configuration (0.36 m). Further, the single-BDA configuration lowered stream stage and flow peaks below it but raised low flows. The double-BDA configuration modulated flow peaks but had little influence on low flows. Unexpectedly, higher flow peaks and low flows were recorded below the triple-BDA configuration, owing to groundwater seep. Similar to the natural beaver dam function, we observed an immediate water table rise in the riparian area after installation of the BDAs. The water table rise was greatest 2 m from the stream (0.14 m) and diminished with increasing lateral distance from the stream. Also noted was a reversal in the direction of flow between the stream and riparian area after BDA installation. Future research should further explore the dynamics of stream-riparian hydrological connections under various BDA configurations and spacings, with the goal of identifying best practices for simulating the ecohydrological functions of natural beaver dams.