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Wednesday, January 31 • 9:20am - 9:40am
HUMAN DIMENSIONS & FISHERIES: Beaver vs. Trout: Untangling a Controversy in the Western Great Lakes (U.S.) Region

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AUTHORS. Sean Johnson-Bice, University of Minnesota Duluth; Kathryn Renik, Bemidji State University; Steve Windels, University of Minnesota Duluth; Andrew Hafs, Bemidji State University

ABSTRACT. Across the western Great Lakes (WGL) U.S. region (Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin), beaver (Castor canadensis) populations were nearly extirpated as salmonid species were being introduced in the early 20th century. Closed trapping seasons, timber harvest regimes, and low predator abundance led to beaver population irruptions across the region by the 1940’s, while stocking of salmonids continued for enhancement of recreational fisheries. Consequently, investigations of beaver-salmonid interactions began as a response to concerns from anglers that beaver were negatively impacting salmonid streams. We review the history of beaver and potamodromous salmonid management practices throughout the region, and present an overview of management actions related to beaver-salmonid interactions. Additionally, we review the main effects of beaver activity on salmonid populations and habitat characteristics, and summarize the results of 20 studies from the WGL region that evaluated beaver-salmonid interactions. Results suggest that beaver activity is often deleterious to salmonids in the WGL, particularly in low gradient stream basins. However, several studies demonstrated beaver activity can benefit salmonids, often in higher gradient streams. There is a noticeable lack of empirical data and/or experimental controls in WGL beaver-salmonid studies, yet these studies are often used as rationale for management actions. We recommend expanding data-driven beaver-salmonid research in the WGL in order to accurately understand a complex ecological relationship that can be highly variable both within and among stream basins throughout the region.

Wednesday January 31, 2018 9:20am - 9:40am CST