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The engineering in beaver dams

The engineering in beaver dams
The engineering in beaver dams
Before their near extinction, beavers populated the smaller rivers in Eurasia and North America. Beavers are called ‘ecosystem engineers’, since their dam building activities dramatically change the character of river (flow characteristics, groundwater and morphology), river habitats and ecosystems. The largest dam currently in existence has a length of 850 m, raising the question of the engineering required for such large structures. A research programme was initiated at Southampton University to assess the engineering importance, and characteristics of beaver dams. It was found that the dams are built in rivers of up to 45 m width. They modify the flow duration curves, increasing ground water retention, reducing the gradient and sediment transport, trapping sediment and improving ecosystems. Model tests were conducted to investigate the strength and permeability of beaver dams. It was found that beavers employ interesting construction techniques, creating semi-permeable dams able to withstand flow volumes of up to 1.34 m3/s per meter width for a 1.4 m high dam. Beaver dam technology may allow to create novel, nature based solutions for ecosystem redevelopment and river renaturalisation.
Muller, Gerald
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Watling, James
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Muller, Gerald
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Watling, James
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Muller, Gerald and Watling, James (2016) The engineering in beaver dams. River Flow 2016: Eighth International Conference on Fluvial Hydraulics, Saint Louis, United States. 12 - 15 Jul 2016. 7 pp .

Record type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)

Abstract

Before their near extinction, beavers populated the smaller rivers in Eurasia and North America. Beavers are called ‘ecosystem engineers’, since their dam building activities dramatically change the character of river (flow characteristics, groundwater and morphology), river habitats and ecosystems. The largest dam currently in existence has a length of 850 m, raising the question of the engineering required for such large structures. A research programme was initiated at Southampton University to assess the engineering importance, and characteristics of beaver dams. It was found that the dams are built in rivers of up to 45 m width. They modify the flow duration curves, increasing ground water retention, reducing the gradient and sediment transport, trapping sediment and improving ecosystems. Model tests were conducted to investigate the strength and permeability of beaver dams. It was found that beavers employ interesting construction techniques, creating semi-permeable dams able to withstand flow volumes of up to 1.34 m3/s per meter width for a 1.4 m high dam. Beaver dam technology may allow to create novel, nature based solutions for ecosystem redevelopment and river renaturalisation.

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Paper 167 Muller Watling.pdf - Accepted Manuscript
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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 15 December 2015
e-pub ahead of print date: July 2016
Venue - Dates: River Flow 2016: Eighth International Conference on Fluvial Hydraulics, Saint Louis, United States, 2016-07-12 - 2016-07-15
Organisations: Water & Environmental Engineering Group

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 400282
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/400282
PURE UUID: 3fdd2f03-748d-4f13-92ac-e37212a24fd2

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Date deposited: 13 Sep 2016 14:16
Last modified: 09 Dec 2019 19:28

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