News & Resources


Au Sable Receives Grant to Continue Boardman River Restoration Research

Apr 22, 2013

Au Sable Institute (ASI) has received a $10,000 grant from the Adams Chapter of Trout Unlimited and the Boardman River Dam Removal Implementation Team to continue its study of the effects of dam removal and modification on large stream invertebrates (“macroinvertebrates”).

One of the most significant ongoing river restoration efforts in the United States, the Boardman River Restoration (BRR) near Traverse City, Michigan, not far from the ASI's Great Lakes campus, will include the removal or modification of four dams on the river as well as extensive changes in the river’s channel, floodplain, and shoreline habitat composition. In support of this river restoration effort, and under the direction of Au Sable's Associate Director Dr. Dave Mahan, ASI has conducted surveys of aquatic macroinvertebrates above and below the affected dams for the past six years. Work to this point have focused on providing a baseline assessment of the composition of the Boardman’s macroinvertebrate community, especially riffle-dwelling macroinvertebrates above and below one of the affected sites, the Brown Bridge Dam. With the removal of this dam in the fall of 2012, efforts will now expand to examine changes in the macroinvertebrate community that may occur subsequent to the dam’s removal. 

To date, Mahan and research students of ASI have demonstrated that there are differences in the macroinvertebrate community above and below the former Brown Bridge Dam and its impoundment, as well as recovery of the macroinvertebrate community at one of the restoration sites downstream from the dam to that of upstream (“undammed”) stretches of river.

The recent funding creates four research positions for Au Sable's undergraduate research program to expand on this on-going study. The 2013 student research team members include David Petry of Bethel University (Minnesota), Christian Hayes of Cedarville University (Ohio), Joel Betts of Calvin College (Michigan) and Casey Shoaff Cornerstone University (Michigan). With receipt of this grant, Mahan and his students are assured of support to continue these studies in the coming summer, retaining and improving the continuity of a long-term study that may become a landmark effort in understanding the effects of dams (and dam removal) on stream invertebrates, and the means to restore streams affected by dams around the world.