Evening Talks at ONRC: Ben Dittbrenner!

Coming up on Friday, October 23, from 7 to 8 p.m., SEFS doctoral student Ben Dittbrenner will be presenting the next installment in the Evening Talks at ONRC speaker series: “Beaver Relocation: a Novel Climate Adaptation Tool.” Held out at the Olympic Natural Resources Center in Forks, Wash., the talk is open to the public, and light refreshments will be served.

Ben Dittbrenner collecting DNA and determining the sex of a captured beaver.

Ben Dittbrenner collecting DNA and determining the sex of a beaver.

About the Talk 
In recent years, the role of North American beavers (Castor canadensis) in wetland restoration and as a potential climate adaptation tool has garnered widespread attention. Beaver populations have continued to rebound in many areas from near extirpation in the early 20th century due to intensive trapping for fur over much of their historical range. This resurgence has presented management challenges in areas where beaver activity and flooding have caused conflicts with human infrastructure and land use.

Beavers also represent an opportunity, however, as they have been shown to restore aquatic systems with greater efficiency, long-term success and less cost than traditional, human-based restoration. The wetland systems they create increase riparian ecosystem resilience, buffering against anthropogenic and climate-based impacts. Shifting precipitation regimes have already been observed in areas of the Pacific Northwest, and the ecological impacts have often been substantial. In many cases, nuisance beavers—animals that are causing flooding or damage—can be relocated to areas where wetland and hydrologic restoration has been prioritized.

Two beavers on their way to a relocation site.

Two beavers on their way to a relocation site.

Using regional habitat models, Dittbrenner and other researchers have identified areas of the west-slope Cascades where beavers historically existed, but are now absent. Some of these areas are also experiencing substantial hydrologic alteration. During the past two years, they have relocated nuisance beavers into these areas in an effort to encourage beaver pond formation and water retention. In this talk, he will present their results to date, including relocation success, an overview of the work their beavers have been up to, and the hydrologic benefits from those beaverworks.

About the Speaker Series
Evening Talks at ONRC is supported by the Rosmond Forestry Education Fund, an endowment that honors the contributions of Fred Rosmond and his family to forestry and the Forks community. In addition to bringing speakers and interesting research out to ONRC, the series provides a great opportunity for graduate students to gain experience presenting their research to the public, and to a generally non-scientific—though thoroughly engaged—audience. For participating University of Washington graduate student speakers, ONRC will cover travel expenses and provide lodging for the night, as well as a stipend of $200.

If you’re interested in giving a talk or know someone who would be a great fit for this series, email Karl Wirsing or Frank Hanson!

Photos © Ben Dittbrenner.

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