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Monday, January 28 • 4:20pm - 4:40pm
(SYMPOSIA-06) Effect of Beaver on Brook Trout Habitat in North Shore Lake Superior Streams

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AUTHORS: Dr. Andrew Hafs, Kathryn Renik – Bemidji State University

ABSTRACT: In Minnesota, Beaver Castor canadensis are considered to have an overall negative affect on native Brook Trout Salvelinus fontinalis. Brook trout provide a valued and productive sport fishery to the North Shore streams of Lake Superior and since revival of the Beaver population from past trapping and timber harvest, a need emerges to examine the complex ecological relationship where the two taxa interact. Suitable Brook Trout habitat is characterized by cold, spring-fed water with silt-free rocky substrate and abundant cover, all of which Beaver may directly, or indirectly, affect. Data collection occurred on 80 (200 m) stream sections and 22 beaver ponds spanning the North Shore during summers 2017 and 2018. A habitat suitability index (HSI) model was employed, and through interpolation in geographic information systems (GIS), maps depicting Brook Trout habitat of sampled stream sections were produced. The average HSI and suitable area (m<sup>2</sup>/100 m<sup>2</sup>) of each sampled reach were compared to Beaver related activity, including reach slope, distance to nearest Beaver pond, and number of dams upstream of sampled sites. Classification regression trees were used to identify significant thresholds in which Beaver activity influenced the amount or quality of Brook Trout habitat. Preliminary results from 2017 data indicated that a greater area of suitable Brook Trout habitat in North Shore streams was achieved when the maximum tree line width of the nearest upstream Beaver pond was = 71.23 m.  Anticipated results from 2018 will be presented contingent on completion of data analysis. Since the effect of Beaver on Brook Trout varies regionally, this study will provide a simple decision-making flow chart to aid in the development of management strategies pertaining to these two species in North Shore, Lake Superior streams.

Monday January 28, 2019 4:20pm - 4:40pm EST