Daniel J. Karran


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Fill‐and‐Spill: A Process Description of Runoff Generation at the Scale of the Beholder
Jeffrey J. McDonnell, Christopher Spence, Daniel J. Karran, H. J. van Meerveld, Ciaran J. Harman
Water Resources Research, Volume 57, Issue 5

Descriptions of runoff generation processes continue to grow, helping to reveal complexities and hydrologic behavior across a wide range of environments and scales. But to date, there has been little grouping of these process facts. Here, we discuss how the “fill‐and‐spill” concept can provide a framework to group event‐based runoff generation processes. The fill‐and‐spill concept describes where vertical and lateral additions of water to a landscape unit are placed into storage (the fill)—and only when this storage reaches a critical level (the spill), and other storages are filled and become connected, does a previously infeasible (but subsequently important) outflow pathway become activated. We show that fill‐and‐spill can be observed at a range of scales and propose that future fieldwork should first define the scale of interest and then evaluate what is filling‐and‐spilling at that scale. Such an approach may be helpful for those instrumenting and modeling new hillslopes or catchments because it provides a structured way to develop perceptual models for runoff generation and to group behaviors at different sites and scales.


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Beaver-mediated water table dynamics in a Rocky Mountain fen
Daniel J. Karran, Cherie J. Westbrook, Angela Bedard‐Haughn
Ecohydrology, Volume 11, Issue 2

Beaver dams are known to raise water tables in mineral soil environments but very little is known about their impact in wetlands, such as peatlands. Peatlands tend to have shallow water tables, and the position and tendency of the water table to fluctuate (i.e. stability) is a factor controlling the system's ability to store carbon and water. Many peatland environments, especially fens, offer ideal habitat for beaver and the potential for beaver dams to influence this link by manipulating water table dynamics requires investigation. Our objective was to determine the influence of beaver dams on water table dynamics of a Rocky Mountain fen. We monitored water tables in the peatland for four years while beaver dams were intact and two years after they were breached by an extreme flood event. We found that, because of the unique way in which dams were built, they connected the peatland to the stream and raised and stabilized already high water tables within a 150-m radius. Beaver-mediated changes to peatland water table regimes have the potential to enhance carbon sequestration and the peatland's ability to respond to external pressures such as climate change. Furthermore, beaver dams increased surface and groundwater storage, which has implications for regional water balances, especially in times of drought.