Presentation Abstract

Ecosystem restoration involving large dam removal spans large spatial extents, long time scales, and diverse societal constituencies. Restoration success requires collaboration among partner organizations. Success also can be facilitated by integrating components and processes of the ecosystem itself in restoration planning and practice. We review early and future roles of wildlife in restoration of valleys flooded by Elwha dams, with implications for dam removals on other rivers. Detecting early wildlife responses depended on baseline inventories prior to dam removal, followed by monitoring during and after dam removal. Pre-removal studies revealed patterns of small and mid-sized mammal occupancy, bear movement, amphibian occupancy, and avian distributions and species composition. In the few years since dam removal, wildlife colonization of exposed reservoir beds has been rapid, dominated by early successional and mobile species. Wildlife also perform important restoration functions, and contribute to all nine attributes defining restored ecosystems. This early in Elwha restoration, conspicuous wildlife functions include native seed dispersal to restoration sites, herbivore effects on revegetation, and organic matter dispersal to nutrient-poor sediments. In future decades, diverse wildlife also will help restore terrestrial-aquatic connections by dispersing nutrients from increasing salmon runs to riparian and terrestrial areas. Each of these wildlife roles is influenced by spatial distributions of pre-dam structural legacies and structures placed during active restoration efforts, particularly large woody debris. By placing these structures in locations and configurations that support wildlife functions, restoration planning and practice more effectively integrate wildlife in restoration. Benefits include increasing the rate of restoration progress and directing it along more desirable trajectories. In this way, the collaborative interdisciplinary approach in Elwha restoration can be expanded in future restoration projects to encompass active collaboration with the ecosystem itself.

Session Title

Elwha Ecosystem Restoration: Emerging Lessons from a Comprehensive Project

Keywords

Elwha wildlife restoration, Ecosystem functions

Conference Track

SSE4: Ecosystem Management, Policy, and Protection

Conference Name

Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference (Seattle, WA : 2018)

Document Type

Event

SSEC Identifier

SSE4-701

Start Date

4-4-2018 2:30 PM

End Date

4-4-2018 2:45 PM

Type of Presentation

Oral

Contributing Repository

Digital content made available by University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University.

Geographic Coverage

Salish Sea (B.C. and Wash.)

Rights

This resource is displayed for educational purposes only and may be subject to U.S. and international copyright laws. For more information about rights or obtaining copies of this resource, please contact University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA 98225-9103, USA (360-650-7534; heritage.resources@wwu.edu) and refer to the collection name and identifier. Any materials cited must be attributed to the Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference Records, University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University.

Type

text

Language

English

Format

application/pdf

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Apr 4th, 2:30 PM Apr 4th, 2:45 PM

Recognizing and integrating wildlife as Elwha restoration agents

Ecosystem restoration involving large dam removal spans large spatial extents, long time scales, and diverse societal constituencies. Restoration success requires collaboration among partner organizations. Success also can be facilitated by integrating components and processes of the ecosystem itself in restoration planning and practice. We review early and future roles of wildlife in restoration of valleys flooded by Elwha dams, with implications for dam removals on other rivers. Detecting early wildlife responses depended on baseline inventories prior to dam removal, followed by monitoring during and after dam removal. Pre-removal studies revealed patterns of small and mid-sized mammal occupancy, bear movement, amphibian occupancy, and avian distributions and species composition. In the few years since dam removal, wildlife colonization of exposed reservoir beds has been rapid, dominated by early successional and mobile species. Wildlife also perform important restoration functions, and contribute to all nine attributes defining restored ecosystems. This early in Elwha restoration, conspicuous wildlife functions include native seed dispersal to restoration sites, herbivore effects on revegetation, and organic matter dispersal to nutrient-poor sediments. In future decades, diverse wildlife also will help restore terrestrial-aquatic connections by dispersing nutrients from increasing salmon runs to riparian and terrestrial areas. Each of these wildlife roles is influenced by spatial distributions of pre-dam structural legacies and structures placed during active restoration efforts, particularly large woody debris. By placing these structures in locations and configurations that support wildlife functions, restoration planning and practice more effectively integrate wildlife in restoration. Benefits include increasing the rate of restoration progress and directing it along more desirable trajectories. In this way, the collaborative interdisciplinary approach in Elwha restoration can be expanded in future restoration projects to encompass active collaboration with the ecosystem itself.