Beaver ponds remain a challenge for forest management in those countries where expansion of beaver (Castor fiber)
is observed. Despite undoubted economic losses generated in forests by beaver, their influence on hydrology of forest streams especially in terms of increasing channel retention (amount of water stored in the river channel), is considered a positive aspect of their activity. In our study, we compared water storage capacities of a lowland forest stream settled by beaver in order to unravel the possible temporal variability of beaver’s influence on channel retention. We compared distribution, total damming height, volumes and areas of beaver ponds in the valley of Krzemianka (Northeast Poland) in the years 2006 (when a high construction activity of beaver was observed) and in 2013 (when the activity of beaver decreased significantly). The study revealed a significant decrease of channel retention of beaver ponds from over 15,000 m3
in 2006 to 7000 m3
in 2013. The total damming height of the cascade of beaver ponds decreased from 6.6 to 5.6 m. Abandoned beaver ponds that transferred into wetlands, where lost channel retention was replaced by soil and groundwater retention, were more constant over time and less vulnerable to the external disturbance means of water storage than channel retention. We concluded that abandoned beaver ponds played an active role in increasing channel retention of the river analyzed for approximately 5 years. We also concluded that if the construction activity of beaver was used as a tool (ecosystem service) in increasing channel retention of the river valley, the permanent presence of beaver in the riparian zone of forest streams should have been assured.