Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Alaska
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Alaska Project


Beaver and wildfire interactions in interior Alaska boreal watersheds

August 2021 - December 2023


Personnel

Participating Agencies

  • SERDP DOD

Wildfires are increasing in frequency, size, and severity across the boreal region of North America with significant effects on stream habitats for fish and wildlife communities. North American Beavers (Castor canadensis) are affected by and affect wildfires and are known to alter stream dynamics which impact organisms in and around those streams. Due to this, beavers could potentially act as a mechanism to magnify or reduce the effects of wildfires on aquatic systems with implications for ecological resilience and vulnerability in light of escalating wildfire regimes. Further, Alaska’s boreal region has diverse fisheries which are culturally and economically important and depend on the availability and suitability of freshwater habitats. Since freshwater habitat characteristics are driven by wildfire disturbance and beaver activities, understanding beaver/fire interactions is an important step to promote long-term sustainability of boreal fisheries. We are collaborating with the University of Alaska Fairbanks, USGS, U.S. Department of Defense, and the Alaska Fire Science Consortium to investigate this topic. The aim of our project is to develop models that include, 1) a spatially explicit model of beaver dam abundance and extent related to wildfire history, and 2) a habitat suitability model for Arctic Grayling (Thymallus arcticus); results will be used to estimate impacts of physical habitat changes on boreal fish species. Although model output can be used as stand-alone products for fire/fish/wildlife management decisions, our results will also be integrated into broader modeling efforts to assess the vulnerability of boreal ecosystems to changing climate and wildfire regimes.

Presentations Presentation Date
Samuel, W. T., J. A. Falke, K. D. Tape, S. K. Panda, A. C. Seitz. 2022. When beavers get burned, do fish get fried? The role of beavers to mediate wildfire effects on freshwater fish habitat in boreal Alaska. Alaska Chapter American Fisheries Society Meeting [Virtual]. 28 Feb – 4 Mar, 2022. February 2022