Beavers as ecosystem engineers

In lectures, I sometimes prefer to frame systems discussions on beavers, since human being tend to anthropomorphize their world. It’s harder to criticize beavers for being beavers, as part of their nature, in perceived good and bad ways.

To date, ecological studies on beavers’ impacts have mostly focused on their ponds and dams, and the effects these have on forest streams, nutrient cycling, and aquatic biodiversity. But in a new study, ESF researchers have found that beaver are just as effective in modifying the forest around their ponds, and in creating diverse habitat that benefits other wildlife in addition to themselves. Conducted by Mike Mahoney as an ESF undergraduate honors project working with Dr. John Stella, the findings are published this month in the journal Forest Ecology and Management.

Thanks. Starting to appreciate the beaver example more. When you first introduce it, it was pretty left field. But it’s grown.

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