With the recent population increase in beavers (Castor spp.), a considerable amount of new riparian habitat has been created in the Holarctic. We evaluated how beaver‐induced floods affect carbon (C) dynamics in the beaver ponds and in the water‐atmosphere and riparian zone interfaces.
Beaver disturbance affects soil organic C storage by decreasing or increasing it, resulting in a redistribution of C. Upon flooding, the concentration of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) increases in the water. This C can be released into the atmosphere, it can settle down to the bottom sediments, it can be sequestered by vegetation, or it can be transported downstream. The carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions vary between 0.14 and 11.2 g CO2 m−2 day−1, averaging 4.9 CO2 g m−2 day−1. The methane (CH4) emissions vary too, from 27 mg m−2 day−1 to 919 mg m−2 day−1, averaging 222 mg CH4 m−2 day−1. Globally, C emission from beaver ponds in the form of CH4 and CO2 may be 3.33–4.62 Tg (teragram, 1012 g) year−1.
The yearly short‐term sedimentation rates in beaver ponds vary between 0.4 and 47 cm year−1, and individual ponds contain 9–6355 m3 of sediment. The approximate global estimate for yearly C sedimentation is 3.8 Tg C; beaver ponds globally contain 380 Tg sedimented C. After being formed, beaver pond deposits can remain for millennia.
Both C sequestration and CO2 and CH4 emissions in ponds of various ages should be taken into account when considering the net effect of beavers on the C dynamics. With present estimates, beaver ponds globally range from a sink (−0.47 Tg year−1) to a source (0.82 Tg year−1) of C. More research is needed with continuous flux measurements and from ponds of different ages. Likewise, there is a need for more studies in Eurasia to understand the effect of beaver on C biogeochemistry.
TidskriftMammal Review
Sidor (från-till)298-311
Antal sidor14
StatusPublicerad - okt. 2018
MoE-publikationstypA2 Granska artikel i en vetenskaplig tidskrift


  • 1181 Ekologi, evolutionsbiologi
  • 1172 Miljövetenskap

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