U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version

November 2001


Published in Can. J. Zool. 79: 1957–1964 (2001).


We assessed the effects of flow regulation on the demography of beavers (Castor canadensis) by comparing the density, home-range size, and body size of bank-dwelling beavers on two sixth-order alluvial river systems, the flow-regulated Green River and the free-flowing Yampa River, from 1997 to 2000. Flow regulation on the Green River has altered fluvial geomorphic processes, influencing the availability of willow and cottonwood, which, in turn, has influenced the demography of beavers. Beaver density was higher on the Green River (0.5–0.6 colonies per kilometer of river) than on the Yampa River (0.35 colonies per kilometer of river). Adult and subadult beavers on the Green River were in better condition, as indicated by larger body mass and tail size. There was no detectable difference in home-range size, though there were areas on the Yampa River that no beavers used. We attribute the improved habitat quality on the Green River to a greater availability of willow. We suggest that the sandy flats and sandbars that form during base flows and the ice cover that forms over winter on the Yampa River increase the energy expended by the beavers to obtain food and increase predation risk and thus lowers the availability of woody forage.