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Graduate Advisor: Melanie Murphy
Department of Ecosystem Sciences and Management
Biodiversity is one of many ecosystem services that beaver wetlands offer and beaver dam
wetlands are known to be an oasis for many declining amphibian species. I am investigating whether
human-made stream restoration techniques can replicate beaver wetlands, including their beneficial
effects on biodiversity. Beaver Dam Analogs (BDAs) are man-made structures that attempt to replicate
beaver ecosystem engineering effects on geology, hydrology, and ecology of lotic systems. To assess
the effectiveness of ecosystem engineering via BDAs, I am focusing on whether BDAs can support
biodiversity at a rate equivalent to natural beaver dams. While BDAs are being widely implemented for
stream restoration goals, it needs to be clarified if these human-engineered physical structures accurately
capture the ecosystem services of natural beaver dams.
About half of the potentially extirpated species in the United States (plants and animals alike)
depend on wetlands. Ecosystem engineers can be a way to restore wetlands can enhance and improve
habitats that provide ecosystem services like biodiversity support. When biodiversity declines,
ecosystem-level consequences are observed in biologically diverse regions like wetlands. In productive
beaver and non-beaver wetlands, three specific taxonomic groups, particularly amphibians,
macroinvertebrates, and plants, can indicate biodiversity health. BDAs offer an opportunity to investigate
how well alternatives to stream restoration via beaver reintroduction work to maintaining biodiversity in
My objective is to test the efficacy of Beaver Dam Analogs (BDAs) in capturing ecosystem
services provided by beavers, specifically the provisioning ecosystem service biodiversity production. I
aim to answer the overall question regarding the ability of BDAs to replicate the ecological effects of
beaver dams on biodiversity in Wyoming streams.
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