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Monday, January 29 • 2:40pm - 3:00pm
TOOLS & TECHNOLOGY: WILDLIFE HABITAT: Beaver Engineering of Wildlife Habitat

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AUTHORS. Steve K. Windels*, Voyageurs National Park; Carol A. Johnston, South Dakota State University

ABSTRACT. The beaver, Castor canadensis, is an ecosystem engineer unrivaled in its capacity to alter boreal landscapes, whose population recovery has re-established environmental conditions that probably existed for millennia prior to its near extirpation by trapping in the 1800s and 1900s. Studies conducted at Voyageurs National Park (VNP) in northern Minnesota illustrate how beaver dams enhance wildlife habitat for a variety of species. Moose and white-tailed deer use beaver-created wetlands for foraging, escape from biting insects, and thermal refugia. Gray wolves use VNP beaver ponds as travel corridors, use abandoned beaver lodges in drained ponds for dens, and hide their pups in the dense grass of beaver meadows while the adults are out hunting. Osprey, woodpeckers, great blue herons, and trumpeter swans have all benefitted from beaver ponds and the snags created when beavers flood lowland forests. All ten species of amphibians present in VNP were found in beaver ponds, and turtles use beaver dams and felled logs for basking. Inventory, monitoring, and research efforts at VNP documented >124 species of terrestrial vertebrates using portions of beaver-affected wetlands for at least a part of their life history, representing 61% of mammal, 30% of bird, 20% of reptile, and 100% of amphibian species in the park. Evidence of beaver population decline at VNP suggests that this influence may diminish in the future.

Monday January 29, 2018 2:40pm - 3:00pm

Attendees (1)