Landscape-scale carbon storage associated with beaver dams
Article first published online: 26 JUL 2013
©2013. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.
Geophysical Research Letters
Volume 40, Issue 14, pages 3631–3636, 28 July 2013
How to Cite
2013), Landscape-scale carbon storage associated with beaver dams, Geophys. Res. Lett., 40, 3631–3636, doi:10.1002/grl.50710.(
- Issue published online: 22 AUG 2013
- Article first published online: 26 JUL 2013
- Accepted manuscript online: 2 JUL 2013 09:01PM EST
- Manuscript Accepted: 29 JUN 2013
- Manuscript Revised: 28 JUN 2013
- Manuscript Received: 23 MAY 2013
- Rocky Mountain National Park;
- historical change
 Beaver meadows form when beaver dams promote prolonged overbank flooding and floodplain retention of sediment and organic matter. Extensive beaver meadows form in broad, low-gradient valley segments upstream from glacial terminal moraines. Surveyed sediment volume and total organic carbon content in beaver meadows on the eastern side of Rocky Mountain National Park are extrapolated to create a first-order approximation of landscape-scale carbon storage in these meadows relative to adjacent uplands. Differences in total organic carbon between abandoned and active beaver meadows suggest that valley-bottom carbon storage has declined substantially as beaver have disappeared and meadows have dried. Relict beaver meadows represent ~8% of total carbon storage within the landscape, but the value was closer to 23% when beaver actively maintained wet meadows. These changes reflect the general magnitude of cumulative effects in heterotrophic respiration and organic matter oxidation associated with historical declines in beaver populations across the continent.