, Volume 31, Issue 2, pp 195–206 | Cite as

Managed Flood Effects on Beaver Pond Habitat in a Desert Riverine Ecosystem, Bill Williams River, Arizona USA

  • Douglas C. Andersen
  • Patrick B. Shafroth
  • Cynthia M. Pritekel
  • Matthew W. O’Neill


The ecological effects of beaver in warm-desert streams are poorly documented, but potentially significant. For example, stream water and sediment budgets may be affected by increased evaporative losses and sediment retention in beaver ponds. We measured physical attributes of beaver pond and adjacent lotic habitats on a regulated Sonoran Desert stream, the Bill Williams River, after ≥11 flood-free months in Spring 2007 and Spring 2008. Neither a predicted warming of surface water as it passed through a pond nor a reduction in dissolved oxygen in ponds was consistently observed, but bed sediment sorted to finest in ponds as expected. We observed a river segment-scale downstream rise in daily minimum stream temperature that may have been influenced by the series of ~100 beaver ponds present. Channel cross-sections surveyed before and after an experimental flood (peak flow 65 m3/s) showed net aggradation on nine of 13 cross-sections through ponds and three of seven through lotic reaches. Our results indicate that beaver affect riverine processes in warm deserts much as they do in other biomes. However, effects may be magnified in deserts through the potential for beaver to alter the stream thermal regime and water budget.


Beaver dam Environmental flow Regulated river Sediment flux Sonoran Desert Thermal regime 



We thank Kathleen Blair, Stan Culling, Dick Gilbert, and Andrew Hautzinger of the US Fish and Wildlife Service for their support of our research on the BWR. We also thank Chris Holdren, Pat Stafford-Powell, Ty Wolters, and Rick Wydoski for key logistical help, Courtney Walz, Tom Bates, Troy Smith, and Brad Cannon for help in the field, and Dave Lytle, Julian Olden, Bruce Baker, and an anonymous reviewer for helpful comments on the manuscript. Tammy Fancher assisted with graphics production. Any use of trade, product, or firm names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.

Supplementary material

13157_2011_154_MOESM1_ESM.doc (84 kb)
ESM 1 (DOC 83 kb)


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Copyright information

© US Government 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Douglas C. Andersen
    • 1
  • Patrick B. Shafroth
    • 2
  • Cynthia M. Pritekel
    • 3
  • Matthew W. O’Neill
    • 4
  1. 1.U.S. Geological SurveyFort Collins Science Center, c/o U.S. Bureau of ReclamationDenverUSA
  2. 2.U.S. Geological Survey, Fort Collins Science CenterFort CollinsUSA
  3. 3.ASRC Management Services contracted to USGS Fort Collins Science CenterFort CollinsUSA
  4. 4.Department of Biological SciencesNorthern Arizona UniversityFlagstaffUSA

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