Beaver meadows are defined in two ways in the literature. Early and recent literature define beaver meadows as complexes of ponds and multi-thread channels within overall swampy conditions caused by damming and digging activity of beavers (summarized in Polvi and Wohl, 2011). Others have stated that beaver meadows are areas of abandoned beaver ponds. The soils are altered because of sedimentation in the beaver ponds, which in combination with subsequent erosion and changes in local hydrologic conditions cause a longer-term vegetation change, and make beaver meadows (abandoned beaver ponds) detectable even after they were drained and re-vegetated (Naiman et al., 1988). Based on our investigation of a beaver meadow and several beaver pond cascades in Germany and Switzerland, we propose a new concept of beaver meadow evolution. This conceptual model includes three stages: i) large beaver pond, ii) headward retreat of alluvial knickpoint, incision, and drainage of the pond, development of a multi-thread channel system, and iii) swampy conditions due to beaver alteration of the multi-thread channels. This model combines both earlier conceptual models, by identifiying the geomorphic process that is responsible for the evolution from the initial beaver pond stage to a much longer, stable beaver meadow stage.