Campbell-Palmer, R., Gow, D., Campbell, R., Dickinson, H., Girling, S., Gurnell, J., Halley, D., Jones, S., Lisle, S., Parker, H., Schwab, G. & Rosell, F. (2016). The Eurasian Beaver Handbook: Ecology and Management of Castor fiber. Exeter: Pelagic Publishing, UK.

Book of Abstracts

  • 6th International Beaver Symposium (2012), held in Ivanic-Grad Croatia from 17-20 September 2012 (pdf).


  • Busher, P. & Dzieciolowski, R. (1999) Beaver Protection, Management, and Utilisation in Europe and North America. Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, New York.
  • Coles, B. (2006) Beavers in Britain’s Past. Oxbow Books, Oxford, UK.
  • Kitchener, A. & Pollitt, R.(2001) Beavers. Whittet Books Ltd.
  • Morgan, L, (1986) The American beaver: A classic of Natural History and Ecology. Dover Publications, New York.
  • Müller-Schwarze, D. (2011) The Beaver: Its Life and Impact (2nd Edit.). Cornell University press.
  • Müller-Schwarze, D. & Sun, L. (2003) The Beaver: Natural History of a Wetlands Engineer. Cornell University Press.
  • Sjoberg, G. & Ball, J. (2011) Restoring the European Beaver: 50 Years of Experience Pensoft Publishers.
  • Yalden, D., (1999) The Histroy of British Mammals. T. & A.D. Poysner Ltd., London.

Bibliography 1994

  • Olson, R., Hubert, W. & Brown, D. (1994) Beaver Ecology and Management In North America: A Bibliography Of Prominent Literature. University of Wyoming, Laramie.

Articles and Reports


  • Alakoski, R., Kauhala, K. & Selonen, V. (2019) Differences in habitat use between the native Eurasian beaver and the invasive North American beaver in Finland. Biological Invasions

Abstract: Habitat requirements largely determine the distribution and abundance of a species. An invasive species can therefore threaten the survival of a native species, if the two species are similar in niche use. In Finland, the distribution of the invasive North American beaver (Castor canadensis) is approaching the range of the native Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber) possibly creating a threat for the latter. We compared the habitat use of the native and invasive beaver species in Finland in the main distribution of the species and within a smaller area where the species live in sympatry. We compared the used habitats (volume of birch and other deciduous trees and distance to agricultural and urban areas) at beaver lodges and at random locations in the available riparian habitat with (conditional) logistic regression models. Results indicated that the native beaver lodges were located closer to agriculture than those of the invasive beaver. The volume of birch was also slightly greater near the lodges of the native beaver than those of the invasive beaver. However, habitat use of both of the species seemed quite flexible, because the habitat near lodges did not differ much from the available habitat. We conclude that the probability that the North American beaver will invade the distribution area of the Eurasian beaver in Finland depends, at least partly, on the ability of the former to live in proximity to agricultural areas. However, methods other than those related to managing habitat quality may be the best approach to controlling the invasive species.

  • Edward Auster, R., Puttock, A. & Brazier, R. (2019) Unravelling perceptions of Eurasian beaver reintroduction in Great Britain. Area 0/00 .

Abstract: International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) guidelines state that anticipated impacts must be considered in wildlife reintroduction, including the impacts on humans. Further, since reintroduction projects can be halted by resulting human–wildlife conflicts or human–human conflicts about wildlife, the perceptions of stakeholders and publics are of great importance. Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber) reintroduction is being debated in Great Britain at a devolved level. A decision has already been taken in Scotland to allow beavers already present to remain, while a number of reintroduction trials are taking place in England (both fenced and unfenced). There are also proposals for a reintroduction trial in Wales. We use a sub‐set of results from a nationwide survey (n = 2,759) to identify four social areas that we propose decision‐makers should consider in the debate: key stakeholder perceptions; engagement methods; attitudes towards legal protection and management responsibilities; and support for management techniques. In this paper, we investigate the complex social dimensions of wildlife reintroduction and we argue that emphasis should be placed on the need to recognise societal perceptions of potential management solutions, beyond perceptions of reintroduction itself. This is paramount in order to develop a management strategy that is more likely to garner social support and reduce potential future conflicts, should beaver reintroduction proceed. Wildlife reintroduction projects can be halted by potential human–wildlife conflicts or human–human conflicts about wildlife. Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber) reintroduction is being debated in Great Britain with decision‐making devolved to the Scottish, English, and Welsh governments. We use a subset of results from a nationwide survey (n = 2,759) to identify four social areas that we propose decision‐makers should consider and we argue that emphasis should be placed on the need to recognise societal perceptions of potential management solutions, beyond perceptions of reintroduction itself, to develop a management strategy more likely to reduce potential future conflicts.

  • Girling, S. J., Goodman, G., Burr, P., Pizzi, R., Naylor, A., Cole, G., Brown, D., Fraser, M., Rosell, F. N., Schwab, G., Elliott, M. & Campbell-Palmer, R. (2019) Evidence of Leptospira species and their significance during reintroduction of Eurasian beavers (Casto fiber) to Great Britain. Veterinary Record 185(15): 482.

The Scottish Beaver Trial (SBT) reintroduced the Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber) in 2009 using wild-caught Norwegian beavers. This included a six-month prerelease quarantine in Devon, England. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and government guidelines for health screening were followed, including testing for Leptospira species. Unlicensed beavers, from Germany, were also identified in Scotland (Tayside) and Devon (later forming the River Otter Beaver Trial (ROBT)) and were health-screened under licence. Due to positive Leptospira species results and lack of prerelease screening in ROBT and Tayside, beavers from Germany and Norway (range sources) were screened. One hundred and fifty-six samples from 151 beavers were analysed by Leptospira species quantitative PCR (qPCR) (n=73 kidney (postmortem)/urine samples (antemortem)) or microscopic agglutination test (MAT, Leptospira pools 1–6) (n=83 serum samples). No beavers from Norway (95 per cent confidence interval (CI) 0–5.6 per cent, n=52), Tayside or SBT postrelease (95 per cent CI 0–4.6 per cent, n=63) tested positive. Seven beavers from Germany and Devon were positive. This gives an overall 9.3 per cent (95 per cent CI 5.2-15.1 per cent) exposure level, of which 4.6 per cent (95 per cent CI 1.9-9.3 per cent) suggested infection on a positive qPCR (n=1) or MAT titre of at least 1/400 (n=6), although none had abnormal physical, biochemical or haematological changes. This study suggests that Leptospira species infection in wild Eurasian beavers occurs at a low level, has no sex bias and does not appear to cause significant morbidity or mortality.

  • Girling, S. J., McElhinney, L. M., Fraser, M. A., Gow, D., Pizzi, R., Naylor, A., Cole, G., Brown, D., Rosell, F., Schwab, G. & Campbell-Palmer, R. (2019) Absence of hantavirus in water voles and Eurasian beavers in Britain. Veterinary Record 184(8): 253.

Abstract: Hantaviruses are RNA viruses (order Bunyavirales, family Hantaviridae) found in rodent, bat and insectivore reservoir-hosts and have been reported as an emerging significant zoonotic risk in Europe. As part of two native semiaquatic rodent restoration projects, tissue and urine samples were tested for hantavirus from water voles (Arvicola amphibius) (n=26, in 2015) and Eurasian beavers (Castor fiber) (n=20, covering 2010–2015) using a pan-hantavirus nested real-time PCR test. Kidney and lung samples were also analysed by light microscopy after haematoxylin and eosin staining of formalin-fixed paraffin wax sections. Individuals selected included those forming the source of release animals and from those already free-living in Britain in areas targeted for release, to identify existing reservoirs. For water voles all tested individuals were from Britain (n=26); for beavers some were from Britain (Scotland) (n=9) and some were samples from wild Norwegian (Telemark region) (n=6) and German (Bavaria region) animals (n=5) that formed the source of accepted wild populations currently present in Scotland. All samples tested from both species were negative for hantavirus RNA and showed no significant histopathological changes suggesting that reservoir infection with hantavirus in water voles in Britain and Eurasian beavers present in Britain, Norway and Bavaria, Germany, is unlikely.

  • Girling, S. J., Naylor, A., Fraser, M. & Campbell-Palmer, R. (2019) Reintroducing beavers Castor fiber to Britain: a disease risk analysis. Mammal Review 0(0).


  1. Eurasian beavers Castor fiber are potential hosts for a range of infectious diseases and parasites, including those typical of common European rodents. A number of infectious organisms are potentially zoonotic and may be notifiable under animal health legislation. The official trial beaver reintroductions to Scotland, the retrospectively licensed releases in England, and the increasingly obvious presence of large numbers of unlicensed illegally released animals have highlighted potential disease risks.
  2. We aimed to conduct a disease risk analysis, based on peer reviewed publications, for selection and health screening of Eurasian beavers prior to release into the wild in Britain.
  3. Adapted from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s ‘Guidelines for Disease Risk Analysis’, a four‐step process was used to formulate a disease risk analysis: 1) problem description; 2) hazard identification based on literature review; 3) risk assessment, which resulted in categorisation of pathogens into low, medium, and high risk; and 4) risk management: identification of mitigating measures, followed by risk re‐evaluation in light of the reported effectiveness of the mitigation measures.
  4. The highest‐risk pathogens identified in the literature review process included: parasites, specifically Cryptosporidium parvum, Echinococcus multilocularis, Eimeriaspp., Fasciola hepatica, Giardia spp., Trichinella britovi; bacteria, specifically Escherichia coli, Franciscella tularensisMycobacterium avium, Salmonella spp., Yersinia spp.; a fungus Cryptosporidium parvum (Emmonsia parva); and terrestrial rabies virus. Most could be mitigated by sourcing beavers from Britain. The rest could be mitigated by pre‐release testing procedures that are already established.
  5. The risk of introducing significant disease to humans, domestic animals, or wildlife by releasing into the wild in Britain a beaver that was captive‐bred in Britain or a wild beaver from Scotland, based on the current evidence of disease incidence, and assuming the use of robust, peer reviewed, pre‐release health screening techniques, can be viewed as low.
  • Law, A., Levanoni, O., Foster, G., Ecke, F. & Willby, N. J. (2019) Are beavers a solution to the freshwater biodiversity crisis? Diversity and Distributions 0(0).

Abstract: Aim To determine whether reintroduced beavers, as an example of native herbivorous megafauna, can increase freshwater biodiversity at the landscape scale and to compare effects on two contrasting taxonomic groups. Location South-central Sweden. Methods We collected data on plant and water beetle composition and supporting environmental variables from 20 closely located wetlands, half created from the damming of streams by beavers?beaver ponds (BP), and half by other, mainly natural (e.g. topographic, river migration) means?other wetlands (OW). Differences in species composition and plant growth strategy (i.e. competitor, stress tolerator or ruderal) between wetland types were assessed using multivariate analyses. Results The species pool of both taxonomic groups was higher in BP than OW (plants + 17%; beetles + 15%). For both groups, the number of species unique to BP was 50% higher than those unique to OW. Plant and beetle compositions differed significantly between wetlands, most strongly for plants, while rarity scores showed no difference, and the incidence of invasive species was negligible. Plant composition was mostly influenced by open water, bare ground and woody debris in BP, and plant cover, height and leaf litter in OW. This was consistent with the characterization of BP vegetation by ruderal plants and OW by competitors and stress tolerators. A significant residual effect of wetland type on plant, but not beetle composition, suggests that beavers exert important direct effects on some biota (e.g. via herbivory) independent of the indirect effects they exert via environmental change. Main conclusions Beaver-created ponds support novel biodiversity that is not merely a subset of that found elsewhere in the same landscape. As such, re-establishing beaver populations where they are native should benefit freshwater biodiversity, but effects may be context and taxon specific. Beavers alone cannot solve the freshwater biodiversity crisis, but recognizing the widespread importance of herbivorous megafauna in maintaining heterogeneity and creating novel habitat will be a positive step.

  • Ritter, T. D., Gower, C. N. & McNew, L. B. (2019) Habitat Conditions at Beaver Settlement Sites: Implications for Beaver Restoration Projects. Restoration Ecology 0(ja).

Abstract: Recognition that beavers are integral components of stream ecosystems has resulted in an increase in beaver-mediated habitat restoration projects. Beaver restoration projects are frequently implemented in degraded stream systems with little or no beaver activity. However, selection of restoration sites is often based on habitat suitability research comparing well-established beaver colonies to unoccupied stream sections or abandoned colonies. Because beavers dramatically alter areas they occupy, assessing habitat conditions at active colonies may over-emphasize habitat characteristics that are modified by beaver activity. During 2015?2017, we conducted beaver activity surveys on streams in the upper Missouri River watershed in southwest Montana, U.S.A, to investigate habitat selection by beavers starting new colonies in novel areas. We compared new colony locations in unmodified stream segments to unsettled segments to evaluate conditions that promoted colonization. Newly settled stream segments had relatively low gradients (??±?SE = ?0.72?±?0.27), narrow channels (? = ?1.31?±?0.46 high channel complexity (? = 0.76?±?0.42), high canopy cover of woody riparian vegetation (? = 0.56?±?0.21), and low-lying areas directly adjacent to the stream (? = 0.36?±?0.24), where ? denotes covariate effect sizes. Habitat selection patterns differed between our new settlement site analysis and an analysis of occupied versus unoccupied stream segments, suggesting that assessing habitat suitability based on active colonies may result in misidentification of suitable site conditions for beaver restoration. Our research provides recommendations for beaver restoration practitioners to select restoration sites that will have the highest probability of successful colony establishment. This article is protected by copyright.

  • Washko, S., Roper, B. & Atwood, T. B. (2019) Beavers alter stream macroinvertebrate communities in north-eastern Utah. Freshwater Biology n/a(n/a).

Abstract: Understanding changes in macroinvertebrate communities is important because they play a large role in stream ecosystem functioning, and they are an important food resource for fish. Beaver-induced changes to stream morphology could alter macroinvertebrate communities, which in turn could affect food webs and ecosystem function. However, studies investigating the effects of North American beaver activities on macroinvertebrates are rare in the inter-mountain west, an area with high potential for beaver-assisted restoration. The aim of this study was to quantify differences in the macroinvertebrate community between unaltered segments of streams and within beaver ponds in north-eastern Utah, U.S.A. We assessed macroinvertebrate species richness, biomass, density, functional feeding group composition, mobility group composition, and macroinvertebrate habitat characteristics to test the hypothesis that macroinvertebrate communities will differ among habitat types (undammed stream segments and beaver ponds) in beaver-occupied streams. Beaver pond communities significantly differed from lotic reach communities in many ways. Beaver ponds were less diverse with 25% fewer species. Although there was variability among streams, in general, beaver ponds had 75% fewer individuals and 90% lower total macroinvertebrate biomass compared to lotic reaches. Regarding functional feeding groups, beaver ponds contained more engulfers, while lotic reaches contained more scrapers, filterers, and gatherers. For mobility groups, beaver ponds had more sprawlers, while lotic reaches had more clingers. Swimmers were also more prevalent in lotic reaches, although this is probably due to the abundance of Baetis within lotic reaches. More beaver pond taxa were classified as lentic-dwelling insects, while more lotic reach taxa were categorised as preferring lotic habitats. The creation of ponds by beavers fundamentally altered the macroinvertebrate community in north-eastern Utah streams. Such changes to stream macroinvertebrate communities suggest that recolonisation of beavers across North America may be altering stream functioning and food webs. Our study highlights the need to further investigate the effects of beaver recolonisation on stream communities.

  • Zwolicki, A., Pudełko, R., Moskal, K., Świderska, J., Saath, S. & Weydmann, A. (2019) The importance of spatial scale in habitat selection by European beaver. Ecography 42(1): 187-200.

Abstract: We evaluated habitat selection by European beaver Castor fiber L. across a spatial gradient from local (within the family territory) to a broad, ecoregional scale. Based on aerial photography, we assessed the habitat composition of 150 beaver territories along the main water bodies of the Vistula River delta (northern Poland) and compared these data with 183 randomly selected sites not occupied by the species. The beavers preferred habitats with high availability of woody plants, including shrubs, and avoided anthropogenically modified habitats, such as arable lands. Within a single family territory, we observed decreasing woody plant cover with increasing distance from a colony centre, which suggests that beaver habitat preferences depend on the assessment of both the abundance and spatial distribution of preferred habitat elements. We tested the importance of spatial scale in beaver habitat selection with principal coordinates of neighbour matrices analysis, which showed that the geographical scale explained 46.7% of the variation in habitat composition, while the local beaver density explained only 10.3% of this variability. We found two main spatial gradients that were related to the broad spatial scale: first, the most important gradient was related to the largest distances between beaver sites and was independent of woody plant cover and the local beaver site density. The second most important gradient appeared more locally and was associated with these variables. Our results indicate that European beaver habitat selection was affected by different scale-related phenomena related 1) to central place foraging behaviour, which resulted in the clumped distribution of woody plants within the territory, and 2) local population density and woody plant cover. Finally, 3) habitat selection occurs independently across the largest spatial scale studied (e.g. between watersheds), which was probably due to the limited natal dispersal range of the animals.


  • Bakker, E. S. & Svenning, J.-C. (2018) Trophic rewilding: impact on ecosystems under global change. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 373(1761).

Introduction: Human-induced global change is increasingly affecting life on our planet, including living conditions for humans themselves as well as the resources we depend on. As a result, species diversity is strongly declining.  The Living Planet Index shows a 58% global decline in populations of amphibians, fish, reptiles, mammals and birds between 1970 and 2012, varying from 36 to 38% in terrestrial and marine ecosystems to 81% in freshwater habitat. Habitat loss or degradation and overexploitation are the main causes of these steep declines. Since the worldwide expansion of modern humans (Homo sapiens) began, humans have overexploited vertebrates, with a bias to the largest animals being extirpated first, from the Late Pleistocene extinctions of terrestrial megafauna to the ongoing declines of terrestrial, marine and freshwater large-bodied animals. There is increasing evidence that this global wildlife loss, or defaunation, does not only imply the loss of charismatic animals but also the functions they have in ecosystems. To restore these missing functions, a novel ecological restoration technique has emerged, referred to as rewilding. Rewilding aims to restore natural processes in ecosystems in general, and often focuses on re-introduction of missing large wildlife species or, in case these went extinct, their proxies. Rewilding is increasingly implemented in practice globally, with a strong emphasis on Europe and the re-introduction of large herbivores.

  • Cazzolla Gatti, R., Callaghan, T. V., Rozhkova-Timina, I., Dudko, A., Lim, A., Vorobyev, S. N., Kirpotin, S. N. & Pokrovsky, O. S. (2018) The role of Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber) in the storage, emission and deposition of carbon in lakes and rivers of the River Ob flood plain, western Siberia. Science of The Total Environment 644: 1371-1379.

Several studies have reported significant emission of greenhouse gasses (GHG) from beaver dams, suggesting that ponds created by beavers are a net source of CO2 and CH4. However, most evidence come from studies conducted in North America (on Castor canadensis) without a parallel comparison with the Eurasian beaver’s (Castor fiber) impacts and a critical consideration of the importance of the carbon deposition in dam sediments. The most abundant population of the Eurasian beaver lives in Russia, notably within the River Ob watershed in Western Siberia which is the second largest floodplain on Earth. Consequently, we assessed the holistic impact of Eurasian beavers on the multiple carbon pools in water and on other related biogeochemical parameters of the Ob’s floodplain streams. We compared dammed and flowing streams in a floodplain of the middle course of the river. We found that beavers in western Siberia increase the stream emission of methane by about 15 times by building their dams. This is similar to what has been documented in North America. A new finding from the present study is that Siberian beavers facilitate 1) nutrient recycling by speeding up the nutrient release from particulate organic matter; and 2) carbon sequestration by increasing the amount of dissolved organic carbon. This carbon becomes in part recalcitrant when buried in sediments and is, therefore, removed from the short-term carbon cycle. These new results should be taken into consideration in river management and provide a further reason for the conservation and management of Eurasian Beavers.

  • Dauwalter DC, Walrath JD. (2018) Beaver dams, streamflow complexity, and the distribution of a rare minnow, Lepidomeda copei. Ecology of Freshwater Fish 27(2):606-16.

Abstract: Freshwater fishes are threatened globally, and often too little is known about threatened species to effectively guide their conservation. Habitat complexity is linked to fish species diversity and persistence, and degraded streams often lack habitat complexity. Beaver Castor spp., in turn, have been used to restore streams and increase habitat complexity. The northern leatherside chub Lepidomeda copei is a rare, small-bodied, drift-feeding minnow that has anecdotally been observed to use complex habitats associated with beaver dams in the western United States. To investigate this anecdote, we conducted fish and habitat surveys, the latter focusing on quantifying habitat complexity, in a sub-basin of the Upper Snake River Basin in the USA. Complementary generalised linear model and path analyses revealed that northern leatherside chub occurred more often at sites with complex streamflows, and streamflows were more complex when beaver dams were present and pools were deeper. Northern leatherside chubs were also more likely to occur when temperatures were warmer, aquatic macrophytes were abundant and stream channels were narrow and deep. The linkage between chubs, complex streamflows and beaver dams needs to be evaluated more broadly to completely understand its role in the rangewide status of the species. However, it does suggests that increased use of beaver reintroductions and dam analogues for stream restoration could be a boon for the northern leatherside chub, but such efforts should be monitored to determine their effectiveness to help adapt beaver-based restoration approaches to best benefit the species.

  • Dittbrenner, B. J., Pollock, M. M., Schilling, J. W., Olden, J. D., Lawler, J. J. & Torgersen, C. E. (2018) Modeling intrinsic potential for beaver (Castor canadensis) habitat to inform restoration and climate change adaptation. PloS one 13(2): e0192538.

Through their dam-building activities and subsequent water storage, beaver have the potential to restore riparian ecosystems and offset some of the predicted effects of climate change by modulating streamflow. Thus, it is not surprising that reintroducing beaver to watersheds from which they have been extirpated is an often-used restoration and climate-adaptation strategy. Identifying sites for reintroduction, however, requires detailed information about habitat factors—information that is not often available at broad spatial scales. Here we explore the potential for beaver relocation throughout the Snohomish River Basin in Washington, USA with a model that identifies some of the basic building blocks of beaver habitat suitability and does so by relying solely on remotely sensed data. More specifically, we developed a generalized intrinsic potential model that draws on remotely sensed measures of stream gradient, stream width, and valley width to identify where beaver could become established if suitable vegetation were to be present. Thus, the model serves as a preliminary screening tool that can be applied over relatively large extents. We applied the model to 5,019 stream km and assessed the ability of the model to correctly predict beaver habitat by surveying for beavers in 352 stream reaches. To further assess the potential for relocation, we assessed land ownership, use, and land cover in the landscape surrounding stream reaches with varying levels of intrinsic potential. Model results showed that 33% of streams had moderate or high intrinsic potential for beaver habitat. We found that no site that was classified as having low intrinsic potential had any sign of beavers and that beaver were absent from nearly three quarters of potentially suitable sites, indicating that there are factors preventing the local population from occupying these areas. Of the riparian areas around streams with high intrinsic potential for beaver, 38% are on public lands and 17% are on large tracts of privately-owned timber land. Thus, although there are a large number of areas that could be suitable for relocation and restoration using beavers, current land use patterns may substantially limit feasibility in these areas.

  • Erich, C. P., Serena, D. & Leonard, S. (2018) Responses of macroinvertebrate communities to small dam removals: Implications for bioassessment and restoration. Journal of Applied Ecology 55(4): 1896-1907.

Abstract Small dam removals are increasing on a global scale; yet, general predictions of organism response to dam removal are constrained by heterogeneity of study designs, implementation strategies, geographies, and characteristics of dams and their removals. Macroinvertebrate data extracted from 29 studies including 34 small dam removals over a broad geographical range were re‐analysed utilizing dam removal effect sizes (a quantified change from before to after removal). Effect sizes of 10 metrics of community structure were calculated to investigate the spatiotemporal extent of small dam removal effects and if responses differ with characteristics of the dam and environmental settings. We found that dam removal had initial negative effects on total macroinvertebrate density and Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera and Trichoptera (EPT) density, both downstream and upstream; however, recovery to pre‐removal values was reached and exceeded after c. 15–20 months. Mean annual discharge, land use in the catchment and distance from the dam affected the magnitude and direction of responses of four community metrics: total density, EPT density, %EPT density and family biotic index. Synthesis and applications. Our study provides evidence that macroinvertebrate community recovery from dam removal is mediated by catchment characteristics and system size, which may correlate with sediment flushing efficiency. Negative impacts were observed in smaller systems or those with a high percentage of undisturbed catchment areas, conditions that may benefit from sediment management prior to dam removal. Significant responses in reaches upstream of the impoundment clearly indicate that caution be applied to interpretations of response in sampling designs that utilize upstream sites for reference condition.

  • Gable, T. D. & Windels, S. K. (2018) Kill rates and predation rates of wolves on beavers. The Journal of Wildlife Management 82(2): 466-472.

Abstract: Wolves (Canis lupus) can be primary predators of beavers (Castor canadensis), but little is known about wolf-beaver dynamics. We identified kills from 1 wolf (V009) of the Ash River Pack in Voyageurs National Park from 1 April to 5 November 2015 to provide direct estimates of wolf pack kill and predation rates of beavers. We documented 12 beaver kills by V009 during the 2015 ice-free season and estimated V009 killed 22 beavers during this period. Based on the number of beavers killed by V009, we estimated the Ash River Pack removed 80–88 beavers (kill rate of 0.085–0.095 beavers/wolf/day), which was 38–42% of the beaver population in their home range during the ice-free season. Even with this substantial level of predation in 2015, the beaver population in the Ash River Pack home range increased by an estimated 43% in 2016, which suggested dispersal from more densely populated adjacent areas likely compensated for the effects of wolf predation. We have presented the first direct estimate of wolf kill and predation rates on beavers, but more research is necessary to understand how wolf predation affects beaver populations under a variety of conditions. Published 2017. This article is a U.S. Government work and is in the public domain in the USA.

  • Gable, T.D., Windels, S.K., Romanski, M.C. & Rosell, F. (2018) The forgotten prey of an iconic predator: a review of interactions between grey wolves Canis lupus and beavers Castor spp. Mammal Review 2018. 48(2): 123-138.


* Predator–prey relationships can have wide-ranging ecological and landscape-level effects. Knowledge of these relationships is therefore crucial to understanding how these systems function and how changes in predator–prey communities affect these systems. Grey wolves Canis lupus can be significant predators of beavers Castor spp., and conversely, beavers can be important prey for wolves, but wolf-beaver dynamics in North America, Europe, and Asia are poorly understood.

* Our objectives were to synthesise current knowledge regarding wolf-beaver interactions and to identify knowledge gaps that should be targeted for study to increase our understanding of wolf-beaver dynamics.

* During the ice-free season, beavers are vulnerable to predation and can be the primary or secondary prey of wolves, but the factors that affect beaver consumption by wolves are complex and are likely dependent on biological and environmental factors.

* High beaver abundance can increase wolf pup survival, and beavers may subsidise wolves during periods of reduced ungulate abundance. Thus, many researchers have suggested that beaver densities adversely affect ungulate populations through apparent competition, though this remains largely untested.

* The effects of wolf predation on beaver population dynamics are poorly understood, as most assessments are lacking in quantitative rigor and are instead based on indirect methods (e.g. scat analysis), anecdotal evidence, or speculation. To understand the effect of predation on beaver populations fully, better estimates (e.g. from documented predation events) of wolf predation on beavers are necessary.

* Given the complexities of wolf-ungulate-beaver systems, fully understanding wolf-beaver dynamics will be challenging and is likely to require long-term, intensive research of wolf, ungulate, and beaver population parameters. Understanding this dynamic has implications, not only for the conservation and management of wolves and beavers, but also for ungulate populations, which are affected by the numerical and functional responses of wolves in these same systems.

  • Gaywood, M. J. (2018) Reintroducing the Eurasian beaver Castor fiber to Scotland. Mammal Review 48(1): 48-61.


* In November 2016, the Scottish Government announced that they were minded to allow the two ‘trial’ reintroduced populations of Eurasian beaver Castor fiber to remain in Scotland and be allowed to expand naturally, and that the species will receive legal protection. This was a historic moment: the first formally approved reintroduction of a mammal species anywhere in the United Kingdom.

* The issues surrounding beaver reintroduction to Scotland had been the subject of intense investigation and public debate over the previous 21 years. Extensive multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary work was performed to assess the desirability and feasibility of reintroducing the Eurasian beaver and informed the government’s decision. This was one of the most detailed assessments carried out for any species reintroduction proposal.

* The work was broadly divided into desk-based and stand-alone studies based primarily on the European and North American experience of living with beavers, the scientifically monitored Scottish Beaver Trial reintroduction in west Scotland, a study of beavers resulting from unauthorised releases in an east Scotland catchment and the work of a specialist group that examined beaver–salmonid interactions and issues.

* It was confirmed that beavers have a very positive influence on biodiversity overall, although some specific species and habitats of high conservation importance can be adversely affected if appropriate management is not in place. Beavers provide a range of ecosystem services with the potential for socio-economic benefits. However, beavers’ activities may affect some land uses, the extent and significance depending on local conditions. Management techniques are well developed, although some will require refinement and appropriate licensing within a Scottish regulatory regime. A strategic approach to developing management throughout Scotland will need to be progressed in partnership with key stakeholders.

Erich, C. P., Serena, D. & Leonard, S. (2018) Responses of macroinvertebrate communities to small dam removals: Implications for bioassessment and restoration. Journal of Applied Ecology 55(4): 1896-1907.

Abstract Small dam removals are increasing on a global scale; yet, general predictions of organism response to dam removal are constrained by heterogeneity of study designs, implementation strategies, geographies, and characteristics of dams and their removals. Macroinvertebrate data extracted from 29 studies including 34 small dam removals over a broad geographical range were re‐analysed utilizing dam removal effect sizes (a quantified change from before to after removal). Effect sizes of 10 metrics of community structure were calculated to investigate the spatiotemporal extent of small dam removal effects and if responses differ with characteristics of the dam and environmental settings. We found that dam removal had initial negative effects on total macroinvertebrate density and Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera and Trichoptera (EPT) density, both downstream and upstream; however, recovery to pre‐removal values was reached and exceeded after c. 15–20 months. Mean annual discharge, land use in the catchment and distance from the dam affected the magnitude and direction of responses of four community metrics: total density, EPT density, %EPT density and family biotic index. Synthesis and applications. Our study provides evidence that macroinvertebrate community recovery from dam removal is mediated by catchment characteristics and system size, which may correlate with sediment flushing efficiency. Negative impacts were observed in smaller systems or those with a high percentage of undisturbed catchment areas, conditions that may benefit from sediment management prior to dam removal. Significant responses in reaches upstream of the impoundment clearly indicate that caution be applied to interpretations of response in sampling designs that utilize upstream sites for reference condition.

  • Gurnell, A., England, J. & Burgess-Gamble, L. (2018) Trees and wood: working with natural river processes. Water and Environment Journal 0(0).

Abstract A history of land clearance and riparian tree and wood management has resulted in limited riparian woodland and wood along British rivers. However, river management approaches are now being promoted that ?work with natural processes? to reduce flood risk through measures intended to restore, protect and emulate the natural function of catchments, rivers, estuaries and coasts. Wood has started to be reintroduced into river channels during river restoration and natural flood management activities, but this needs to be undertaken using appropriate quantities, locations and designs that mimic natural tree-wood features. This paper reviews the knowledge that is needed to support wood reintroduction activities including (i) the characteristics of the riparian tree species and wood that are present; (ii) the importance of river size relative to that of trees and wood pieces; and (iii) the way trees, wood and geomorphic processes interact across rivers and floodplains of different energy and style.

  • Herdrich, A. T., Winkelman, D. L., Venarsky, M. P., Walters, D. M. & Wohl, E. (2018) The loss of large wood affects rocky mountain trout populations. Ecology of Freshwater Fish 27(4): 1023-1036.

Abstract: Western U.S. rivers are currently influenced by legacy effects of reduced large wood (LW) loading and retention that has substantially reduced in-stream habitat complexity. Large wood is typically associated with streams in undisturbed old-growth forest and in the correct geomorphic context can drastically alter stream and valley habitat complexity. Streams with LW are typically multichannel and depositional, while streams lacking LW, due to relatively recent wildfire or logging (<200 years ago), are usually single channelled and erosional. We compared population biomass and individual growth rates of Brook Trout Salvelinus fontinalis in streams across a gradient of wood volumes. At both the square metre and valley length scales, standing stock biomass of aquatic invertebrates was the best predictor of trout biomass. However, at the valley scale, the number of pools was important in predicting trout biomass in combination with standing stock biomass of aquatic invertebrates. Individual growth rates of age-1 Brook Trout were negatively affected by increasing density; however, growth rates for the largest and smallest individuals at each site were unaffected by density. Our results suggest the pool habitat created by LW acts synergistically with prey availability to dramatically increase trout populations. However, in streams lacking LW, negative effects of detrimental land use practices have persisted >100 years, suggesting that recovering lost animal production in mountain stream networks will only occur at decadal to century time scales.

  • Hohwieler, K., Rosell, F. & Mayer, M. (2018) Scent-marking behavior by subordinate Eurasian beavers. Ethology 

Abstract: Chemical communication by scent-marking is widespread among mammals and can serve different purposes, such as territory demarcation, mate attraction and self-advertisement. In this study, we examined scent-marking behavior by subordinate Eurasian beavers (Castor fiber) in a population in southeast Norway. We conducted scent experiments in 18 family groups, simulating a territory intruder using experimental scent mounds (ESM). In total, we recorded 196 territorial reactions (destroying and/or overmarking of scent mounds). Subordinates contributed 14% of all territorial reactions and first overmarked 12% of the ESM, and the number of subordinates in the family group did not increase the total number of territorial reactions. This suggests that the contribution by subordinates plays a minor role in territorial defense. The number of territorial reactions by subordinates was positively related to the age of their parents, suggesting that subordinates might take over territorial duties with increasing parental senescence, likely because they have increased chances of inheriting the territory. Increased experience in territorial activities possibly helps subordinates to successfully gain and defend a territory of their own.

  • Hood, G. A., Manaloor, V. & Dzioba, B. (2018) Mitigating infrastructure loss from beaver flooding: A cost–benefit analysis. Human Dimensions of Wildlife  23(2): 146-159.

We installed 12 pond levelers to counter flooding by beavers and developed a cost?benefit analysis for these sites in Alberta, Canada. We also documented beaver management approaches throughout Alberta. Over 3 years, one site required regular maintenance until we designed a modified pond leveler; another required minor modifications. Others required almost no maintenance. Based on a “willingness-to-pay” (WTP) of $0 and discount rate of 3%, installing pond levelers resulted in a present value net benefit of $81,519 over 3 years and $179,440 over 7 years. Scenarios incorporating discount rates of 3% and 7%, horizons of either 3 or 7 years, and varying WTPs resulted in significant net benefits. Provincially, municipalities employed up to seven methods to control beavers: most commonly lethal control and dam removal. Total annual costs provided by 48 municipalities and 4 provincial parks districts were $3,139,223; however, cost-accounting was sometimes incomplete, which makes this a conservative estimate.

Jepson, P., Schepers, F. & Helmer, W. (2018) Governing with nature: a European perspective on putting rewilding principles into practice. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 373(1761).

Abstract: Academic interest in rewilding is moving from commentary to discussion on future research agendas. The quality of rewilding research design will be enhanced if it is informed by knowledge of the rewilding practice. Here, we describe the conceptual origins and six case study examples of a mode of rewilding that emerged in the Dutch Delta and is being promoted and supported by Rewilding Europe, an umbrella organization established in 2011. The case experiences presented help position this version of rewilding in relation to the US 3C&#039;s version and point towards a rewilding action philosophy characterized by pragmatic realism and pioneer projects around which multiactor networks interested in policy innovation and change form. We argue that scaling-up the models of rewilding presented is constrained by institutional cultures and will require innovations in conservation finance and business models. Nonetheless, we suggest that the expanding European Rewilding Network and associated facilities, such as the European Wildlife Bank, represent a valuable asset for natural science research, aimed at exploring the ecological impacts of grazing and the relationship between role of restored herbivore guilds and biotical expansion, and for social science research investigating concepts such as non-human agency and autonomy. Lastly, we ask applied scientists to view rewilding as an uncertain and unfolding conservation approach and to refrain from seeking to specify it as a management approach supporting the delivery of pre-determined targets and/or ideals. This is because such actions may constrain the transformative potential of rewilding practice.This article is part of the theme issue ‘Trophic rewilding: consequences for ecosystems under global change’.

  • Mayer, M., Frank, S., Zedrosser, A. & Rosell, F. (2019) Causes and consequences of inverse density-dependent territorial behavior and aggression in a monogamous mammal. Journal of Animal Ecology 0(ja).

Abstract: 1.Territoriality is an important process shaping population dynamics, and the defense of a territory is crucial for individuals to increase the duration of territory occupancy and consequently, reproductive success. However, little is known about how the frequency of territory intrusions and subsequent territorial behaviors and aggression by territory owners are affected by external factors, such as population density. This is important, because it can affect mate change (the replacement of one pair member) and dispersal, a key ecological process. 2.The aim of this study was to investigate the behavioral and spatial response of territory owners to intruder pressure as a function of population density in a territorial, monogamous mammal, the Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber). 3.Using a combination of GPS technology, scent experiments, camera trap data, and tail scar observations from an individual-based long-term study, we investigated the factors influencing spatial movement patterns by territory owners in response to a simulated intruder, and the factors affecting territory intrusions. 4.We found consistent inverse density-dependent patterns in territorial behaviors and evidence of conspecific aggression. At lower densities, territory owners detected more simulated intrusions, showed more territorial reactions, and experienced increased conspecific aggression as indicated by tail scars, suggesting increased intruder pressure. 5.Inverse density-dependent territorial behavior and aggression suggest a potential mechanistic link between inverse density-dependent natal dispersal and mate change. At low population densities, increased dispersal amplifies intruder pressure, leading to the observed increases in territorial behaviors, conspecific aggression, and previously observed mate turnover, which in turn might increase natal dispersal. Our study demonstrates how population density can affect the behavior and space use of individuals, which is important for territory occupancy and fitness.

  • Mourant, A., Lecomte, N. & Moreau, G. (2018) Indirect effects of an ecosystem engineer: how the Canadian beaver can drive the reproduction of saproxylic beetles. Journal of Zoology 304(2): 90-97.

Environmental rearrangements by ecosystem engineers influence food-web characteristics by altering resource accessibility/availability in the newly created habitat. However, the paucity of empirical studies on this indirect interaction has hindered the integration of ecosystem engineering and food-web theory. Here, we investigated the effect of the Canadian beaver Castor canadensis on the activity, realized fecundity and ecosystem functions provided by saproxylic beetles by quantifying beetle emergence holes on woody debris within the Kouchibouguac National Park, New Brunswick, Canada. We tested the hypothesis that perturbation induced by beaver activity enhances the activity and realized fecundity of saproxylic beetles by modifying their habitat and resource accessibility. We used 16 sites identified as beaver modified, each paired with a control site <500 m away. At each site, we quantified insect emergence holes on snags at increasing distances from the watercourse. Our results suggest that engineered habitat patches enhance the activity and reproduction of saproxylic beetle species, small emergence holes from Scolytinae being only observed in abundance on small trees located close to the watercourse and large emergence holes from Cerambycidae being one third more abundant throughout beaver-modified sites. The complementary relationship between the Canadian beaver and saproxylic beetles demonstrates the potential for conservation measures encapsulating all of these organisms.

  • Mumma, M.A., Gillingham, M.P., Johnson, C.J. & Parker, K.L. (2018) Where beavers (Castor canadensis) build: testing the influence of habitat quality, predation risk, and anthropogenic disturbance on colony occurrence. Canadian Journal of Zoology

Abstract: Species distributions are shaped by numerous factors that vary in importance across spatiotemporal scale. Understanding drivers of the distribution of North American beaver (Castor canadensis Kuhl, 1820) is paramount given their profound influence on ecological communities. Our objectives were to evaluate the influence of habitat quality, risk of gray wolf (Canis lupus Linnaeus, 1758) predation, and anthropogenic disturbance on the occurrence of beaver colonies in northeast British Columbia (BC), Canada. We used mixed-effects multinomial logistic regression to model the occurrence of active and inactive colonies, and t-tests to compare landscape covariates associated with active versus inactive colonies. We determined that occurrence of beavers was driven by habitat quality. Occurrence increased in areas with higher vegetation-class richness and greater proportions of open water, nutrient-rich fen, and deciduous swamp. We also observed that active colonies were surrounded by greater amounts of deciduous swamps relative to inactive colonies. We found no evidence that predation risk or industrial activities decreased the occurrence of beavers in northeast BC; although, numerical changes in abundance might occur without changes in distribution. This research illuminated drivers of beaver distribution, while providing a means to predict the occurrence of a keystone species in the boreal ecosystem.

  • Nummi, P., Liao, W., Huet, O., Scarpulla, E. & Sundell, J. (2019) The beaver facilitates species richness and abundance of terrestrial and semi-aquatic mammals. Global Ecology and Conservation 20: e00701.

Abstract: Beavers are ecosystem engineers which are capable to facilitate many groups of organisms. However, their facilitation of mammals has been little studied. We applied two methods, camera trapping and snow track survey to investigate the facilitation of a mammalian community by the ecosystem engineering of the American beaver (Castor canadensis) in a boreal setting. We found that both mammalian species richness (83% increase) and occurrence (12% increase) were significantly higher in beaver patches than in the controls. Of individual species, the moose (Alces alces) used beaver patches more during both the ice-free season and winter. The Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra), the pine marten (Martes martes) and the least weasel (Mustela nivalis) made more use of beaver sites during the winter. Our study highlights the role of ecosystem engineers in promoting species richness and abundance, especially in areas of relatively low productivity. Wetlands and their species have been in drastic decline during the past century, and promoting facilitative ecosystem engineering by beaver is feasible in habitat conservation or restoration. Beaver engineering may be especially valuable in landscapes artificially deficient in wetlands.

  • Nummi, P., Suontakanen , E.-M., Holopainen, S. & Väänänen, V.-M. (2018) The effect of beaver facilitation on Common Teal: pairs and broods respond differently at the patch and landscape scales. Ibis

Avian species respond to ecological variability at a range of spatial scales and according to life history stage. Beaver dams create wetland systems for waterbirds that are utilized throughout different stages of the breeding season. We studied how beaver-induced variability affected mobile pairs and more sedentary broods along with the production of Common Teal Anas crecca at the patch and landscape scale on their breeding grounds. Beavers Castor spp. are ecosystem engineers that enhance waterfowl habitats by impeding water flow and creating temporary flooding. Two landscapes in southern Finland with (Evo) and without (Nuuksio) American Beavers Castor canadensis were used in this study. To investigate the patch-scale effect, pair and brood densities along with brood production were first compared at beaver-occupied lakes and non-beaver lakes in the beaver landscape. Annual pair and brood densities/km shoreline and brood production were compared between beaver and non-beaver landscapes. Facilitative effects of beaver activity were manifest on brood density at both patch and landscape scales: these were over 90% and 60% higher in beaver patches and landscapes, respectively. An effect of beaver presence on pair density was only seen at the landscape level. Pair density did not strongly affect brood production, as shown earlier for relatively mildly density-dependent Teal populations. Because the extent of beaver flooding was a crucial factor affecting annual Teal production in the study area, we infer beaver activity has consequences for the local Teal population. Ecosystem engineering by the beaver could therefore be considered a restoration tool in areas where waterfowl are in need of high-quality habitats.

  • Nummi, P., Vehkaoja, M., Pumpanen, J. & Ojala, A. (2018) Beavers affect carbon biogeochemistry: both short-term and long-term processes are involved. Mammal Review 48(4): 298-311.

Abstract With the recent population increase in beavers (Castor spp.), a considerable amount of new riparian habitat has been created in the Holarctic. We evaluated how beaver-induced floods affect carbon (C) dynamics in the beaver ponds and in the water-atmosphere and riparian zone interfaces. Beaver disturbance affects soil organic C storage by decreasing or increasing it, resulting in a redistribution of C. Upon flooding, the concentration of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) increases in the water. This C can be released into the atmosphere, it can settle down to the bottom sediments, it can be sequestered by vegetation, or it can be transported downstream. The carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions vary between 0.14 and 11.2 g CO2 m−2 day−1, averaging 4.9 CO2 g m−2 day−1. The methane (CH4) emissions vary too, from 27 mg m−2 day−1 to 919 mg m−2 day−1, averaging 222 mg CH4 m−2 day−1. Globally, C emission from beaver ponds in the form of CH4 and CO2 may be 3.33–4.62 Tg (teragram, 1012 g) year−1. The yearly short-term sedimentation rates in beaver ponds vary between 0.4 and 47 cm year−1, and individual ponds contain 9–6355 m3 of sediment. The approximate global estimate for yearly C sedimentation is 3.8 Tg C; beaver ponds globally contain 380 Tg sedimented C. After being formed, beaver pond deposits can remain for millennia. Both C sequestration and CO2 and CH4 emissions in ponds of various ages should be taken into account when considering the net effect of beavers on the C dynamics. With present estimates, beaver ponds globally range from a sink (−0.47 Tg year−1) to a source (0.82 Tg year−1) of C. More research is needed with continuous flux measurements and from ponds of different ages. Likewise, there is a need for more studies in Eurasia to understand the effect of beaver on C biogeochemistry.

  • Petrosyan, V. G., Golubkov, V. V., Zavyalov, N. A., Khlyap, L. A., Dergunova, N. N. & Osipov, F. A. (2019) Modelling of competitive interactions between native Eurasian (Castor fiber) and alien North American (Castor сanadensis) beavers based on long-term monitoring data (1934–2015). Ecological Modelling 409: 108763.

Our goal is to assess consequences of the introduction of alien North American (Castor canadensis (Cc)) beaver into the Nature Reserves inhabited by Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber (Cf)) in European Russia using a mathematical model. For this reason, we have developed a two-species model of population dynamics. Long-term (1934–2015) monitoring data on Cf population dynamics in six Nature Reserves are used in computer modelling of competitive interactions between native Cf and alien Cc. The Reserves are located in the European part of Russia in the north, south, and central part of Cf range. We have simulated the dynamics of both species populations after the introduction of Cc into the habitats occupied by Cf. The model demonstrates that Cf is displaced by Cc in all the Reserves after the introduction of 2 – 24 individuals of Cö. However, the duration of exclusion of one species by the other varies as a function of ecological conditions, initial number of individuals, and fecundities. Our model shows that, in case of introduction of 12 Cc beavers, the size of Cf population starts to decrease after 31–146 years as a result of competition. We study the conditions providing the coexistence of both species and find that Cc population dynamics after Cf exclusion can be described by four patterns: irruptive (Lapland Reserve), single-stage (Prioksko-Terrasny Reserve), multi-stage (Darwin, Central-Forest, and Khoper Reserves) and logistic population growth (Oka Reserve). Species biology in terms of the fecundity, family size, rate of individual development until sexual maturity, life-span, and the age structure of populations are compared between species to detect the mechanisms providing the competitive advantage of Cc over Cf.

  • Puttock, A., Graham, H. A., Carless, D. & Brazier, R. E. (2018) Sediment and Nutrient Storage in a Beaver Engineered Wetland. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms

Abstract Beavers, primarily through the building of dams, can deliver significant geomorphic modifications and result in changes to nutrient and sediment fluxes. Research is required to understand the implications and possible benefits of widespread beaver reintroduction across Europe. This study surveyed sediment depth, extent and carbon/nitrogen content in a sequence of beaver pond and dam structures in South West England, where a pair of Eurasian beavers (Castor fiber) were introduced to a controlled 1.8 ha site in 2011. Results showed that the 13 beaver ponds, subsequently created, hold a total of 101.53 ± 16.24 t of sediment, equating to a normalised average of 71.40 ± 39.65 kg m2. The ponds also hold 15.90 ± 2.50 t of carbon and 0.91 ± 0.15 t of nitrogen within the accumulated pond sediment. The size of beaver pond appeared to be the main control over sediment storage, with larger ponds holding a greater mass of sediment per unit area. Furthermore, position within the site appeared to play a role with the upper‐middle ponds, nearest to the intensively‐farmed headwaters of the catchment, holding a greater amount of sediment. Carbon and nitrogen concentrations in ponds showed no clear trends, but were significantly higher than in stream bed sediment upstream of the site. We estimate that >70 % of sediment in the ponds is sourced from the intensively managed grassland catchment upstream, with the remainder from in‐situ redistribution by beaver activity. Whilst further research is required into the long term storage and nutrient cycling within beaver ponds, results indicate that beaver ponds may help to mitigate the negative offsite impacts of accelerated soil erosion and diffuse pollution from agriculturally dominated landscapes such as the intensively managed grassland in this study.

  • Rosell, F., Cross, H. B., Johnsen, C. B., Sundell, J. & Zedrosser, A. (2019) Scent-sniffing dogs can discriminate between native Eurasian and invasive North American beavers. Scientific Reports 9(1): 15952.

The invasion of a species can cause population reduction or extinction of a similar native species due to replacement competition. There is a potential risk that the native Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber) may eventually be competitively excluded by the invasive North American beaver (C. canadensis) from areas where they overlap in Eurasia. Yet currently available methods of census and population estimates are costly and time-consuming. In a laboratory environment, we investigated the potential of using dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) as a conservation tool to determine whether the Eurasian or the North American beaver is present in a specific beaver colony. We hypothesized that dogs can discriminate between the two beaver species, via the odorant signal of castoreum from males and females, in two floor platform experiments. We show that dogs detect scent differences between the two species, both from dead beaver samples and from scent marks collected in the field. Our results suggest that dogs can be used as an “animal biosensor” to discriminate olfactory signals of beaver species, however more tests are needed. Next step should be to test if dogs discern between beaver species in the field under a range of weather conditions and habitat types and use beaver samples collected from areas where the two species share the same habitat. So far, our results show that dogs can be used as a promising tool in the future to promote conservation of the native beaver species and eradication of the invasive one. We therefore conclude that dogs may be an efficient non-invasive tool to help conservationist to manage invasive species in Europe, and advocate for European wildlife agencies to invest in this new tool.

  • Swinnen, K. R. R., Rutten, A., Nyssen, J. & Leirs, H. (2018) Environmental factors influencing beaver dam locations. The Journal of Wildlife Management 83(2): 356-364.

ABSTRACT Beavers are known for their ability to build dams that change the environment. They also occupy territories where they do not construct dams. The goal of this study was to determine which environmental factors influence beaver dam construction and to examine the upstream water level increase caused by the dams. We compared factors collected at 15 beaver territories with dams (32 dams) and 13 territories without dams (i.e., control) in the gently undulating and human-dominated landscape of Middle Belgium in 2013. River width, river depth, distance from woody vegetation, stream velocity, and bank height differed significantly between territories with and without dams. Water depth was the most important parameter to correctly classify territories as either dam territory or control territory (with 97% accuracy). When beavers were present and water depth in summer was <68?cm, the probability of dam building was high; if water depth was >68?cm, dam building was unlikely. Dams caused an increase in the upstream water level of on average 47?±?21?cm. On average the water level could rise only an additional 25?±?30?cm upstream of the dam before bank overtopping would occur. These results provide a simple tool for planners to assess the probability of floodplain inundation by beaver dam building, as part of multifunctional riverine landscape management. ? 2018 The Wildlife Society.

  • Tape, K. D., Jones, B. M., Arp, C. D., Nitze, I. & Grosse, G. (2018) Tundra be dammed: Beaver colonization of the Arctic. Global Change Biology

Abstract Increasing air temperatures are changing the arctic tundra biome. Permafrost is thawing, snow duration is decreasing, shrub vegetation is proliferating, and boreal wildlife is encroaching. Here we present evidence of the recent range expansion of North American beaver (Castor canadensis) into the Arctic, and consider how this ecosystem engineer might reshape the landscape, biodiversity, and ecosystem processes. We developed a remote sensing approach that maps formation and disappearance of ponds associated with beaver activity. Since 1999, 56 new beaver pond complexes were identified, indicating that beavers are colonizing a predominantly tundra region (18,293 km2) of northwest Alaska. It is unclear how improved tundra stream habitat, population rebound following over‐trapping for furs, or other factors are contributing to beaver range expansion. We discuss rates and likely routes of tundra beaver colonization, as well as effects on permafrost, stream ice regimes, and freshwater and riparian habitat. Beaver ponds and associated hydrologic changes are thawing permafrost. Pond formation increases winter water temperatures in the pond and downstream, likely creating new and more varied aquatic habitat, but specific biological implications are unknown. Beavers create dynamic wetlands and are agents of disturbance that may enhance ecosystem responses to warming in the Arctic.

  • Torres, A., Fernández, N., zu Ermgassen, S., Helmer, W., Revilla, E., Saavedra, D., Perino, A., Mimet, A., Rey-Benayas, J. M., Selva, N., Schepers, F., Svenning, J.-C. & Pereira, H. M. (2018) Measuring rewilding progress. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 373(1761).

Abstract: Rewilding is emerging as a promising restoration strategy to enhance the conservation status of biodiversity and promote self-regulating ecosystems while re-engaging people with nature. Overcoming the challenges in monitoring and reporting rewilding projects would improve its practical implementation and maximize its conservation and restoration outcomes. Here, we present a novel approach for measuring and monitoring progress in rewilding that focuses on the ecological attributes of rewilding. We devised a bi-dimensional framework for assessing the recovery of processes and their natural dynamics through (i) decreasing human forcing on ecological processes and (ii) increasing ecological integrity of ecosystems. The rewilding assessment framework incorporates the reduction of material inputs and outputs associated with human management, as well as the restoration of natural stochasticity and disturbance regimes, landscape connectivity and trophic complexity. Furthermore, we provide a list of potential activities for increasing the ecological integrity after reviewing the evidence for the effectiveness of common restoration actions. For illustration purposes, we apply the framework to three flagship restoration projects in the Netherlands, Switzerland and Argentina. This approach has the potential to broaden the scope of rewilding projects, facilitate sound decision-making and connect the science and practice of rewilding.This article is part of the theme issue ‘Trophic rewilding: consequences for ecosystems under global change’.

  • Willby, N. J., Law, A., Levanoni, O., Foster, G. & Ecke, F. (2018) Rewilding wetlands: beaver as agents of within-habitat heterogeneity and the responses of contrasting biota. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 373(1761).

Abstract: Ecosystem engineers can increase biodiversity by creating novel habitat supporting species that would otherwise be absent. Their more routine activities further influence the biota occupying engineered habitats. Beavers are well-known for transforming ecosystems through dam building and are therefore increasingly being used for habitat restoration, adaptation to climate extremes and in long-term rewilding. Abandoned beaver ponds (BP) develop into meadows or forested wetlands that differ fundamentally from other terrestrial habitats and thus increase landscape diversity. Active BP, by contrast, are superficially similar to other non-engineered shallow wetlands, but ongoing use and maintenance might affect how BP contribute to aquatic biodiversity. We explored the ‘within-habitat’ effect of an ecosystem engineer by comparing active BP in southern Sweden with coexisting other wetlands (OW), using sedentary (plants) and mobile (water beetles) organisms as indicators. BP differed predictably from OW in environmental characteristics and were more heterogeneous. BP supported more plant species at plot (+15%) and site (+33%) scales, and plant beta diversity, based on turnover between plots, was 17% higher than in OW, contributing to a significantly larger species pool in BP (+17%). Beetles were not differentiated between BP and OW based on diversity measures but were 26% more abundant in BP. Independent of habitat creation beaver are thus significant agents of within-habitat heterogeneity that differentiates BP from other standing water habitat; as an integral component of the rewilding of wetlands re-establishing beaver should benefit aquatic biodiversity across multiple scales.This article is part of the theme issue ‘Trophic rewilding: consequences for ecosystems under global change’.

  • Zwolicki, A., Pudełko, R., Moskal, K., Świderska, J., Saath, S. & Weydmann, A. (2018) The importance of spatial scale in habitat selection by European beaver. Ecography

We evaluated habitat selection by European beaver (Castor fiber L.) across a spatial gradient from local (within the family territory) to a broad, ecoregional scale. Based on aerial photography, we assessed the habitat composition of 150 beaver territories along the main water bodies of the Vistula River delta (northern Poland) and compared these data with 183 randomly selected sites not occupied by the species. The beavers preferred habitats with high availability of woody plants, including shrubs, and avoided anthropogenically modified habitats, such as arable lands. Within a single family territory, we observed decreasing woody plant cover with increasing distance from a colony centre, which suggests that beaver habitat preferences depend on the assessment of both the abundance and spatial distribution of preferred habitat elements. We tested the importance of spatial scale in beaver habitat selection with principal coordinates of neighbour matrices analysis, which showed that the geographical scale explained 46.7% of the variation in habitat composition, while the local beaver density explained only 10.3% of this variability. We found two main spatial gradients that were related to the broad spatial scale: first, the most important gradient was related to the largest distances between beaver sites and was independent of woody plant cover and the local beaver site density. The second most important gradient appeared more locally and was associated with these variables. Our results indicate that European beaver habitat selection was affected by different scale-related phenomena related (1) to central place foraging behaviour, which resulted in the clumped distribution of woody plants within the territory, and (2) local population density and woody plant cover. Finally (3), habitat selection occurs independently across the largest spatial scale studied (e.g., between watersheds), which was probably due to the limited natal dispersal range of the animals.


  • Brommer, J. E., Alakoski, R., Selonen, V. & Kauhala, K. (2017) Population dynamics of two beaver species in Finland inferred from citizen-science census data. Ecosphere 8(9): e01947.

Abstract: A species’ distribution and abundance in both space and time play a pivotal role in ecology and wildlife management. Collection of such large-scale information typically requires engagement of volunteer citizens and tends to consist of non-repeated surveys made with a survey effort varying over space and time. We here used a hierarchical single-census open population N-mixture model, which was recently developed to handle such challenging census data, to describe the dynamics in the Finnish population sizes of the reintroduced native Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber) and the invasive North American beaver (Castor canadensis). The numbers of beaver winter lodges (i.e., family groups) were counted by volunteers in the municipalities of Finland every third year during 1995?2013. The dynamics of both species followed Gompertz logistic growth with immigration. Initial abundance of North American beavers increased with proximity to the introduction sites as well as with the amount of water in the municipality. The intensively hunted North American beaver population declined and the Eurasian beaver population increased during the study period. The model generated reasonable estimates of both total Finnish and local numbers of lodges, corrected for the incomplete detection. We conclude that the single-census N-mixture model approach has clear potential when using citizen-science data for understanding spatio-temporal dynamics of wild populations.

  • Devon Wildlife Trust. (2017). Beavers – Nature’s Water Engineers: A summary of initial findings from the Devon Beaver Projects. Retrieved from
  • Ecke, F., Levanoni, O., Audet, J., Carlson, P., Eklöf, K., Hartman, G., McKie, B., Ledesma, J., Segersten, J. & Truchy, A. (2017) Meta-analysis of environmental effects of beaver in relation to artificial dams. Environment Research Letters 12(11): 1-13.

Abstract: Globally, artificial river impoundment, nutrient enrichment and biodiversity loss impair freshwater ecosystem integrity. Concurrently, beavers, ecosystem engineers recognized for their ability to construct dams and create ponds, are colonizing sites across the Holarctic after widespread extirpation in the 19th century, including areas outside their historical range. This has the potential to profoundly alter hydrology, hydrochemistry and aquatic ecology in both newly colonized and recolonized areas. To further our knowledge of the effects of beaver dams on aquatic environments, we extracted 1366 effect sizes from 89 studies on the impoundment of streams and lakes. Effects were assessed for 16 factors related to hydrogeomorphology, biogeochemistry, ecosystem functioning and biodiversity. Beaver dams affected concentrations of organic carbon in water, mercury in water and biota, sediment conditions and hydrological properties. There were no overall adverse effects caused by beaver dams or ponds on salmonid fish. Age was an important determinant of effect magnitude. While young ponds were a source of phosphorus, there was a tendency for phosphorus retention in older systems. Young ponds were a source methylmercury in water, but old ponds were not. To provide additional context, we also evaluated similarities and differences between environmental effects of beaver-constructed and artificial dams (767 effect sizes from 75 studies). Both are comparable in terms of effects on, for example, biodiversity, but have contrasting effects on nutrient retention and mercury. These results are important for assessing the role of beavers in enhancing and/or degrading ecological integrity in changing Holarctic freshwater systems.

  • Law, A., Gaywood, M. J., Jones, K. C., Ramsay, P., & Willby, N. J. (2017). Using ecosystem engineers as tools in habitat restoration and rewilding: beaver and wetlands. Science of The Total Environment, 605-606 (Supplement C), 1021-1030. doi:

Abstract: Potential for habitat restoration is increasingly used as an argument for reintroducing ecosystem engineers. Beaver have well known effects on hydromorphology through dam construction, but their scope to restore wetland biodiversity in areas degraded by agriculture is largely inferred. Our study presents the first formal monitoring of a planned beaver-assisted restoration, focussing on changes in vegetation over 12years within an agriculturally-degraded fen following beaver release, based on repeated sampling of fixed plots. Effects are compared to ungrazed exclosures which allowed the wider influence of waterlogging to be separated from disturbance through tree felling and herbivory. After 12years of beaver presence mean plant species richness had increased on average by 46% per plot, whilst the cumulative number of species recorded increased on average by 148%. Heterogeneity, measured by dissimilarity of plot composition, increased on average by 71%. Plants associated with high moisture and light conditions increased significantly in coverage, whereas species indicative of high nitrogen decreased. Areas exposed to both grazing and waterlogging generally showed the most pronounced change in composition, with effects of grazing seemingly additive, but secondary, to those of waterlogging. Our study illustrates that a well-known ecosystem engineer, the beaver, can with time transform agricultural land into a comparatively species-rich and heterogeneous wetland environment, thus meeting common restoration objectives. This offers a passive but innovative solution to the problems of wetland habitat loss that complements the value of beavers for water or sediment storage and flow attenuation. The role of larger herbivores has been significantly overlooked in our understanding of freshwater ecosystem function; the use of such species may yet emerge as the missing ingredient in successful restoration.

  • Macfarlane, W. W., Wheaton, J. M., Bouwes, N., Jensen, M. L., Gilbert, J. T., Hough-Snee, N., & Shivik, J. A. (2017). Modeling the capacity of riverscapes to support beaver dams. Geomorphology, 277 (Supplement C), 72-99. doi:

Abstract: The construction of beaver dams facilitates a suite of hydrologic, hydraulic, geomorphic, and ecological feedbacks that increase stream complexity and channel–floodplain connectivity that benefit aquatic and terrestrial biota. Depending on where beaver build dams within a drainage network, they impact lateral and longitudinal connectivity by introducing roughness elements that fundamentally change the timing, delivery, and storage of water, sediment, nutrients, and organic matter. While the local effects of beaver dams on streams are well understood, broader coverage network models that predict where beaver dams can be built and highlight their impacts on connectivity across diverse drainage networks are lacking. Here we present a capacity model to assess the limits of riverscapes to support dam-building activities by beaver across physiographically diverse landscapes. We estimated dam capacity with freely and nationally-available inputs to evaluate seven lines of evidence: (1) reliable water source, (2) riparian vegetation conducive to foraging and dam building, (3) vegetation within 100m of edge of stream to support expansion of dam complexes and maintain large colonies, (4) likelihood that channel-spanning dams could be built during low flows, (5) the likelihood that a beaver dam is likely to withstand typical floods, (6) a suitable stream gradient that is neither too low to limit dam density nor too high to preclude the building or persistence of dams, and (7) a suitable river that is not too large to restrict dam building or persistence. Fuzzy inference systems were used to combine these controlling factors in a framework that explicitly also accounts for model uncertainty. The model was run for 40,561km of streams in Utah, USA, and portions of surrounding states, predicting an overall network capacity of 356,294 dams at an average capacity of 8.8dams/km. We validated model performance using 2852 observed dams across 1947km of streams. The model showed excellent agreement with observed dam densities where beaver dams were present. Model performance was spatially coherent and logical, with electivity indices that effectively segregated capacity categories. That is, beaver dams were not found where the model predicted no dams could be supported, beaver avoided segments that were predicted to support rare or occasional densities, and beaver preferentially occupied and built dams in areas predicted to have pervasive dam densities. The resulting spatially explicit reach-scale (250m long reaches) data identifies where dam-building activity is sustainable, and at what densities dams can occur across a landscape. As such, model outputs can be used to determine where channel–floodplain and wetland connectivity are likely to persist or expand by promoting increases in beaver dam densities.

  • Mayer, M., Zedrosser, A., & Rosell, F. (2017) When to leave: the timing of natal dispersal in a large, monogamous rodent, the Eurasian beaver. Animal Behaviour, 123: 375-382. doi:

Abstract: As dispersal is a dangerous part of an individual’s life, its timing is important to increase the chances of survival and successful establishment of a territory. We investigated factors affecting the timing of natal dispersal in the Eurasian beaver, Castor fiber, a territorial, monogamous, long-lived mammal, using data from an 18-year individual-based study (1998-2015). We tested hypotheses about the causes of dispersal onset, namely competitive ability, kin competition (sibling competition and offspring parent competition), population density and intolerance by an incoming, unrelated dominant individual. Only 9% of individuals remained philopatric and became dominant after both of their parents disappeared. Average age at dispersal was 3.5 years, with some individuals delaying dispersal up to age 7 years. Beavers dispersed more frequently with increasing age (i.e. with increasing competitive ability and possibly experience) and when population density was lower. Further, both females and males delayed dispersal with increasing same-sex parental age. Older parents were either more tolerant towards philopatric subordinates, or subordinates awaited the disappearance of their senescing parents to take over the natal territory. From comparisons with other populations, we conclude that the high population density in our area was possibly the ultimate driver of dispersal with individuals delaying dispersal to increase their competitive ability.

  • Parker, H., Zedrosser, A., & Rosell, F. (2017). Age-specific reproduction in relation to body size and condition in female Eurasian beavers. Journal of Zoology, 302(4), 236-243.

Abstract: Basic information on patterns and correlates of growth and reproduction are essential for understanding a species’ life history strategy. For the Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber), knowledge of life history is fragmentary and correlates of growth and reproduction unstudied. We related measures of somatic fitness including growth rate, body size (length), body condition (fat) and body mass to measures of reproductive investment including fecundity (number of corpora lutea (CL) and fetuses), age-specific reproduction, age of primiparity and parturition date in 59 female beavers culled from mid-March to mid-May in south-east Norway. Increase in body length ceased after age three. Primiparity at ages two and three was related to body length and mass, but not fat. Postponed primiparity beyond age two was common. Fecundity was significantly higher in fatter individuals and showed a trend to increase with age. For females ≥age three, those pregnant were significantly fatter than barren individuals. Intermittent years of non-breeding were common among sexually mature females. The mean number of CL and fetuses alive at the females time of death among 32 pregnant individuals was 3.0 ± 0.9 (range 1–6) and 2.3 ± 0.9 (range 1–4) respectively. Females conceiving at the normal peak time in late January were significantly heavier than individuals that conceived 1–3 months later. Late breeders, however, had significantly more CL, possibly because the improved nutrient levels provided by early spring growth led to higher ovulation rates. Fat accumulated during summer and autumn prior to winter breeding appears to be an important determinant of reproduction in female beavers.

  • Puttock, A., Graham, H., Cunliffe, A., Elliott, M., & Brazier, R. (2017). Eurasian beaver activity increases water storage, attenuates flow and mitigates diffuse pollution from intensively-managed grasslands. Science of The Total Environment, 576, 430-443.

Abstract: Beavers are the archetypal keystone species, which can profoundly alter ecosystem structure and function through their
ecosystem engineering activity, most notably the building of dams. This can have a major impact upon water resource
management, flow regimes and water quality. Previous research has predominantly focused on the activities of North
American beaver (Castor canadensis) located in very different environments, to the intensive lowland agricultural landscapes
of the United Kingdom and elsewhere in Europe.

Two Eurasian beavers (Castor fiber) were introduced to a wooded site, situated on a first order tributary, draining from intensively managed grassland. The site was monitored to understand impacts upon water storage, flow regimes and water quality. Results indicated that beaver activity, primarily via the creation of 13 dams, has increased water storage within the site (holding ca. 1000 m3 in beaver ponds) and beavers were likely to have had a significant flow attenuation impact, as determined from peak discharges (mean 30 ± 19% reduction), total discharges (mean 34 ± 9% reduction) and peak rainfall to peak discharge lag times (mean 29 ± 21% increase) during storm events. Event monitoring of water entering and leaving the site showed lower concentrations of suspended sediment, nitrogen and phosphate leaving the site (e.g. for suspended sediment; average entering site: 112 ± 72 mg l− 1, average leaving site: 39 ± 37 mg l− 1). Combined with attenuated flows, this resulted in lower diffuse pollutant loads in water downstream. Conversely, dissolved organic carbon concentrations and loads downstream were higher. These observed changes are argued to be directly attributable to beaver activity at the site which has created a diverse wetland  environment, reducing downstream hydrological connectivity. Results have important implications for beaver reintroduction programs which may provide nature based solutions to the catchment-scale water resource management issues that are faced in agricultural landscapes.

  • Smeraldo, S., Di Febbraro, M., Ćirović, D., Bosso, L., Trbojević, I., & Russo, D. (2017). Species distribution models as a tool to predict range expansion after reintroduction: A case study on Eurasian beavers (Castor fiber). Journal for Nature Conservation, 37 (Supplement C), 12-20. doi:

Abstract: Species Distribution Models (SDMs) may provide important information for the follow-up phase of reintroduction operations by identifying the main areas most likely to be colonized by the reintroduced species. We used SDMs to identify the potential distribution of Eurasian beavers (Castor fiber) reintroduced to Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2004–2006 after being historically driven to extinction by overhunting. Models were also used to carry out a gap analysis to assess the degree of protection granted by the national reserve networks to the potentially expanding population. Distances from hydrographic network, broadleaved forest, main watercourses and farmland were the main factors influencing model performance. We estimated that suitable habitat covers 14.0% (31,000km2) of the whole study area. In Serbia, in 2004–2013 beavers expanded their range at a mean colonization speed of 70.9±12.8km/year (mean±SD). Only 2.89% of and 9.72% of beaver’s suitable habitat lie within the national network of protected areas of Bosnia and Serbia respectively. We detected new potential areas where beavers will likely settle in the near future, advising on where further monitoring should be carried out. We also identified low suitability areas to be targeted with appropriate management to improve their conditions as well as important regions falling outside reserve boundaries to which protection should be granted.

  • Steinbeiser, C.M., Wawrzynowski, C.A., Ramos, X. & Olson, Z.H.  (2017). Scavenging and the ecology of fear: do animal carcasses create islands of risk on the landscape? Canadian Journal of Zoology 96(3): 229-236.

Abstract: Many vertebrate scavengers function as predators in ecosystems, suggesting that the presence of scavengers and occurrence of predator effects may be intertwined near carcasses. We tested for risk effects near a series of experimentally placed carcasses by measuring small-mammal foraging in a before–after control–impact design. Validation efforts revealed low levels of food loss from stations due to human error and invertebrate foraging, and habituation to stations occurred after 2 weeks. Increased perceived predation risk by small mammals relative to controls occurred in three of seven trials. The effect was observed across tested carcass types (beaver, Castor canadensis Kuhl, 1820; white-tailed deer, Odocoileus virginianus (Zimmermann, 1780)) and seasons (summer and fall). However, small mammals also increased foraging relative to controls in two of seven trials, and foraging reached a ceiling in two other trials that prevented inference on a response. Taken together, our results suggest that scavenger recruitment to carcasses can in some instances create islands of risk for prey on the landscape, but the effect is not likely to be universal. Where small-mammal foraging does decrease, further work will be necessary to determine if risk effects cascade to adjacent trophic levels through enhanced seed and seedling survival.

  • Westbrook, C. J., Cooper, D. J., & Anderson, C. B. (2017). Alteration of hydrogeomorphic processes by invasive beavers in southern South America. Science of The Total Environment, 574 (Supplement C), 183-190. doi:

Abstract: The North American beaver (Castor canadensis) is an invasive species in southern Patagonia, introduced in 1946 as part of a program by the Argentine government to augment furbearers. Research focus has turned from inventorying the beaver’s population and ecosystem impacts toward eradicating it from the region and restoring degraded areas. Successful restoration, however, requires a fuller determination of how beavers have altered physical landscape characteristics, and of what landscape features and biota need to be restored. Our goal was to identify changes to the physical landscape by invasive beaver. We analyzed channel and valley morphology in detail at one site in each of the three major forest zones occurring on the Argentine side of Tierra del Fuego’s main island. We also assessed 48 additional sites across the three forest biomes on the island to identify a broader range of aquatic habitat occupied and modified by beaver. Beaver build dams with Nothofagus tree branches on streams, which triggered mineral sediment accretion processes in the riparian zone, but not in ways consistent with the beaver meadow theory and only at a few sites. At the majority of sites, beavers actively excavated peat and mineral sediment, moved thousands of cubic meters of sediment within their occupied landscapes and used it to build dams. Beaver were also common in fen ecosystems where pond formation inundated and drowned peat forming mosses and sedges, and triggered a massive invasion of exotic plant species. Results highlight that restoration of fen ecosystems is a previously unrecognized but pressing and challenging restoration need in addition to reforestation of Nothofagus riparian forests. We recommend that decision-makers include the full ecosystem diversity of the Fuegian landscape in their beaver eradication and ecosystem restoration plans.


  • Campbell-Palmer, R., Gow, D., Campbell, R., Dickinson, H., Girling, S., Gurnell, J., . . . Rosell, F. (2016). The Eurasian Beaver Handbook: Ecology and Management of Castor fiber.  Exeter: Pelagic Publishing, UK.
  • Friesen, O. C., & Roth, J. D. (2016) Alternative prey use affects helminth parasite infections in grey wolves. Journal of Animal Ecology, 85: 1265-1274. doi:10.1111/1365-2656.12544.

Abstract: * Predators affect prey populations not only through direct predation, but also by acting as definitive hosts for their parasites and completing parasite life cycles. Understanding the affects of parasitism on prey population dynamics requires knowing how their predators’ parasite community is affected by diet and prey availability. Ungulates, such as moose (Alces americanus) and white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), are often important prey for wolves (Canis lupus), but wolves also consume a variety of alternative prey, including beaver (Castor canadensis) and snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus). * The use of alternative prey, which may host different or fewer parasites than ungulates, could potentially reduce overall abundance of ungulate parasites within the ecosystem, benefiting both wolves and ungulate hosts. * We examined parasites in wolf carcasses from eastern Manitoba and estimated wolf diet using stable isotope analysis. Taeniidae cestodes were present in most wolves (75%), reflecting a diet primarily comprised of ungulates, but nematodes were unexpectedly rare. * Cestode abundance was negatively related to the wolf’s ?13C value, indicating diet affects parasite abundance. Wolves that consumed a higher proportion of beaver and caribou (Rangifer tarandus), estimated using Bayesian mixing models, had lower cestode abundance, suggesting the use of these alternative prey can reduce parasite loads. * Long-term consumption of beavers may lower the abundance of adult parasites in wolves, eventually lowering parasite density in the region and ultimately benefiting ungulates that serve as intermediate hosts. Thus, alternative prey can affect both predator-prey and host-parasite interactions and potentially affect food web dynamics.

  • Gallant, D., Léger, L., Tremblay, É., Berteaux, D., Lecomte, N. & Vasseur, L. (2016) Linking time budgets to habitat quality suggests that beavers (Castor canadensis) are energy maximizers. Canadian Journal of Zoology 94: 671-676. https://doi:10.1139/cjz-2016-0016.

Abstract: According to optimal foraging theory, consumers make choices that maximize their net energy intake per unit of time. We used foraging theory as a framework to understand the foraging behaviour of North American beavers (Castor canadensis Kuhl, 1820), an important herbivore that engineers new habitats. We tested the hypothesis that beavers are energy maximizers by verifying the prediction that they allocate time to foraging activities independently of habitat quality in Kouchibouguac National Park of Canada in New Brunswick, where nearly five decades of unabated colonization by beavers led to family units established in habitats of varying quality. We observed the behaviour of 27 beavers at seven ponds from May to August 2001, at dusk and dawn. Habitat quality did not influence time that beavers allocated to foraging. This finding supported our hypothesis. The only factor in the best model explaining time spent foraging was the progression of spring and summer seasons (weekly periods). Limiting factors such as infrastructure maintenance and intermittent reactions to danger remain poorly understood for this important herbivore. Future research should focus on establishing the importance that habitat quality (food availability) and environmental stress (weather, predators) have on shaping its time budget and, consequently, its survival and reproductive success.

  • Giriat, D., Gorczyca, E., & Sobucki, M. (2016). Beaver ponds’ impact on fluvial processes (Beskid Niski Mts., SE Poland). Science of The Total Environment, 544 (Supplement C), 339-353. doi:

Abstract: Beaver (Castor sp.) can change the riverine environment through dam-building and other activities. The European beaver (Castor fiber) was extirpated in Poland by the nineteenth century, but populations are again present as a result of reintroductions that began in 1974. The goal of this paper is to assess the impact of beaver activity on montane fluvial system development by identifying and analysing changes in channel and valley morphology following expansion of beaver into a 7.5km-long headwater reach of the upper Wisłoka River in southeast Poland. We document the distribution of beaver in the reach, the change in river profile, sedimentation type and storage in beaver ponds, and assess how beaver dams and ponds have altered channel and valley bottom morphology. The upper Wisłoka River fluvial system underwent a series of anthropogenic disturbances during the last few centuries. The rapid spread of C. fiber in the upper Wisłoka River valley was promoted by the valley’s morphology, including a low-gradient channel and silty-sand deposits in the valley bottom. At the time of our survey (2011), beaver ponds occupied 17% of the length of the study reach channel. Two types of beaver dams were noted: in-channel dams and valley-wide dams. The primary effect of dams, investigated in an intensively studied 300-m long subreach (Radocyna Pond), was a change in the longitudinal profile from smooth to stepped, a local reduction of the water surface slope, and an increase in the variability of both the thalweg profile and surface water depths. We estimate the current rate of sedimentation in beaver ponds to be about 14cm per year. A three-stage scheme of fluvial processes in the longitudinal and transverse profile of the river channel is proposed. C. fiber reintroduction may be considered as another important stage of the upper Wisłoka fluvial system development.

  • Graf, P. M., Mayer, M., Zedrosser, A., Hackländer, K., & Rosell, F. (2016) Territory size and age explain movement patterns in the Eurasian beaver. Mammalian Biology – Zeitschrift für f 81(6): 587-594.

Abstract: Territoriality is only profitable when the benefits gained from territory exploitation exceed the costs of defence, and territory sizes are usually optimized by time constraints related to resource defence (e.g. patrolling) and exploitation. In this study, we equipped 25 dominant Eurasian beavers (Castor fiber) with GPS units to study spatial movement patterns both on land and in water in relation to territory size, resource availability, the number of neighbours, season, and the beavers’ age. We show a territory size-dependent trade-off between territorial behaviours and foraging distances: Beavers in larger territories moved greater distances each night, thereby spending more time patrolling, and stayed closer to the shoreline when being on land (i.e. when foraging). Inversely, in smaller territories beavers patrolled less and foraged further away from the shoreline. These results suggest that individuals trade-off the costs of patrolling larger territories against the benefits of foraging closer towards the shoreline. Smaller territories might be more prone to resource depletion, thus, making foraging further from the shoreline a strategy to ensure sustainable resource use. Further, older beavers spent more time on land and close to territory borders compared to younger ones, suggesting a behavioural change with age possibly due to increased experience and boldness.

  • Law, A., F. McLean, et al. (2016). “Habitat engineering by beaver benefits aquatic biodiversity and ecosystem processes in agricultural streams.” Freshwater Biology 61(4): 486-499.

Abstract: * Small-scale discontinuities, formed by accumulations of wood, are recognised as a key feature of functionally intact forested streams because they promote organic matter retention, increase habitat complexity and provide flow refugia. Re-establishing such features in physically degraded streams is therefore a common priority for restoration schemes. Ecosystem engineering by beavers in the form of dam building might offer a natural mechanism for restoring degraded streams. Despite an increase in beaver reintroductions globally, the ecosystem engineering concept has rarely been applied to restoring biodiversity and ecosystem function, especially within degraded freshwater systems.* By comparing multiple beaver-modified and unmodified sites on headwater streams draining 13 ha of pastureland in eastern Scotland, U.K., we investigated if hydromorphological changes caused by reintroduced beavers (Castor fiber) translate into desirable biological responses when there is a long history of physical degradation and contraction of the regional species pool due to agricultural land use. * Beaver modified in-stream habitat by constructing 10 dams, thus creating a series of interconnected dam pools. Organic matter retention and aquatic plant biomass increased (7 and 20 fold higher respectively) in beaver ponds relative to unmodified channels, consistent with the lower fluctuation in stream stage observed below a series of dams. Growing season concentrations of extractable P and NO3 were on average 49% and 43% lower respectively below a series of dams than above, although colour and suspended solids concentrations increased. * Macroinvertebrate samples from beaver-modified habitats were less taxon rich (alpha diversity on average 27% lower) than those from unmodified stream habitat. However, due to significant compositional differences between beaver versus unmodified habitats, a composite sample from all habitats indicated increased richness at the landscape scale; gamma diversity was 28% higher on average than in the absence of beaver-modified habitat. Feeding guild composition shifted from grazer/scraper and filter feeder dominance in unmodified habitats to shredder and collector-gatherer dominance in beaver-created habitats. * Dam building by beaver in degraded environments can improve physical and biological diversity when viewed at a scale encompassing both modified and unmodified habitats. By restoring ecosystem processes locally, it may also offer wider scale benefits, including greater nutrient retention and flood attenuation. These benefits should be evaluated against evidence of any negative effects on land use or fisheries.

  • McCaffery, M., & Eby, L. (2016) Beaver activity increases aquatic subsidies to terrestrial consumers. Freshwater Biology, 61 (4),  518-532. doi:10.1111/fwb.12725.

Abstract: * The occurrence and importance of fluxes of nutrients and organic matter between aquatic and terrestrial habitats is well established, but how catchment characteristics influence these fluxes remains unclear. Beaver (Castor canadensis) alter freshwater ecosystems and increase aquatic production, but it is unknown how these changes influence the magnitude and lateral dispersal of aquatic nutrients into terrestrial ecosystems.

* We examined differences in abundances of dominant aquatic invertebrates, wolf spiders (Lycosidae), and deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus), at beaver and non-beaver sites. We used stable isotopes to track aquatic-derived carbon in terrestrial consumers and linear mixed-effects models to examine the importance of beaver presence and distance from stream channel on the percentage of aquatic-derived carbon in terrestrial consumers.

* Sites with beaver activity had >200% higher aquatic invertebrate emergence rates as well as 60% and 75% higher abundances of spiders and deer mice, respectively, relative to non-beaver sites.

* The tissues of both spiders and deer mice exhibited a greater percentage of aquatic-derived carbon at sites with beaver activity than at non-beaver sites.

* Aquatic-derived carbon in deer mice declined linearly with distance from the stream edge at both beaver and non-beaver sites. The contribution of aquatic-derived carbon in mice extended farther from the stream edge in beaver-modified catchments. Aquatic-derived carbon in spiders also declined linearly with distance from the stream at beaver sites but not at non-beaver sites.

* We documented a novel example of increased aquatic subsidy to riparian areas with beaver activity, leading to changes in the magnitude of the lateral dispersal of aquatic nutrient subsidies to the terrestrial environment in small stream systems. Understanding the effects of natural disturbance regimes, such as beaver modification, will be important for management and, where appropriate, restoration of natural catchment processes.

  • Small, B. A., Frey, J. K., & Gard, C. C. (2016) Livestock grazing limits beaver restoration in northern New Mexico. Restoration Ecology, n/a-n/a. doi:10.1111/rec.12364.

Abstract: The North American beaver (Castor canadensis) builds dams that pond water on streams, which provide crucial ecological services to aquatic and riparian ecosystems and enhance biodiversity. Consequently, there is increasing interest in restoring beavers to locations where they historically occurred, particularly in the arid western United States. However, despite often intensive efforts to reintroduce beavers into areas where they were severely reduced in numbers or eliminated due to overharvesting in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, beavers remain sparse or missing from many stream reaches. Reasons for this failure have not been well studied. Our goal was to evaluate certain biotic factors that may limit the occurrence of dam-building beavers in northern New Mexico, including competitors and availability of summer and winter forage. We compared these factors at primary active dams and at control sites located in stream reaches that were physically suitable for dam-building beavers but where none occurred. Beaver dams mostly occurred at sites that were not grazed or where there was some alternative grazing management, but were mostly absent at sites within Forest Service cattle allotments. Results indicated that cattle grazing influenced the relation between vegetation variables and beaver presence. The availability of willows (Salix spp.) was the most important plant variable for the presence of beaver dams. We conclude that grazing by cattle as currently practiced on Forest Service allotments disrupts the beaver-willow mutualism, rendering stream reaches unsuitable for dam-building beavers. We recommend that beaver restoration will require changes to current livestock management practices.

  • Smith, J., Windels, S., Wolf, T., Klaver, R., & Belant, J. (2016) Do transmitters affect survival and body condition of American beavers (Castor canadensis)? Wildlife Biology, 29 January 2016.

Abstract: One key assumption often inferred with using radio-equipped individuals is that the transmitter has no effect on the metric of interest. To evaluate this assumption, we used a known fate model to assess the effect of transmitter type (i.e., tail-mounted or peritoneal implant) on short-term (1 yr) survival and a joint live-dead recovery model and results from a mark-recapture study to compare long-term (8 yr) survival and body condition of ear-tagged only American beavers (Castor canadensis) to those equipped with radio transmitters in Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota, USA. Short-term (1-yr) survival was not influenced by transmitter type (wi = 0.64). Over the 8-yr study period, annual survival was similar between transmitter-equipped beavers (tail-mounted and implant transmitters combined; 0.76; 95% CI = 0.45-0.91) vs ear-tagged only (0.78; 95% CI = 0.45-0.93). Additionally, we found no difference in weight gain (t9 = 0.25, P = 0.80) or tail area (t11 = 1.25, P = 0.24) from spring to summer between the two groups. In contrast, winter weight loss (t22 = ?2.03, p = 0.05) and tail area decrease (t30 = ?3.04, p = 0.01) was greater for transmitter-equipped (weight = ?3.09 kg, SE = 0.55; tail area = ?33.71 cm2, SE = 4.80) than ear-tagged only (weight = ?1.80 kg, SE = 0.33; tail area = ?12.38 cm2, SE = 5.13) beavers. Our results generally support the continued use of transmitters on beavers for estimating demographic parameters, although we recommend additional assessments of transmitter effects under different environmental conditions.

  • Stringer, A. P., & Gaywood, M. J. (2016) The impacts of beavers Castor spp. on biodiversity and the ecological basis for their reintroduction to Scotland, UK. Mammal Review, n/a-n/a. doi:10.1111/mam.12068.

Abstract: * In Scotland, UK, beavers became extinct about 400 years ago. Currently, two wild populations are present in Scotland on a trial basis, and the case for their full reintroduction is currently being considered by Scottish ministers. Beavers are widely considered “ecosystem engineers”. Indeed, beavers have large impacts on the environment, fundamentally change ecosystems, and create unusual habitats, often considered unique. In this review, we investigate the mechanisms by which beavers act as ecosystem engineers, and then discuss the possible impacts of beavers on the biodiversity of Scotland.
* A meta-analysis of published studies on beavers’ interactions with biodiversity was conducted, and the balance of positive and negative interactions with plants, invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals recorded.
* The meta-analysis showed that, overall, beavers have an overwhelmingly positive influence on biodiversity. Beavers’ ability to modify the environment means that they fundamentally increase habitat heterogeneity. As beavers are central-place foragers that feed only in close proximity to watercourses, their herbivory is unevenly spread in the landscape. In addition, beaver ponds and their associated unique successional stages increase habitat heterogeneity both spatially and temporally. Beavers also influence the ecosystems through the creation of a variety of features such as dams and lodges, important habitat features such as standing dead wood (after inundation), an increase in woody debris, and a graded edge between terrestrial and aquatic habitats that is rich in structural complexity.
* In Scotland, a widespread positive influence on biodiversity is expected, if beavers are widely reintroduced. For instance, beaver activity should provide important habitat for the otter Lutra lutra, great crested newt Triturus cristatus and water vole Arvicola amphibious, all species of conservation importance.
* Beavers are most likely to have detrimental impacts on certain woodland habitats and species of conservation importance, such as the Atlantic hazelwood climax community and aspen Populus tremula woodland. A lack of woodland regeneration caused by high deer abundance could lead to habitat degradation or loss. These are also of particular importance due to the variety of associated dependent species of conservation interest, such as lichen communities in Atlantic hazelwoods.

  • Thompson, S., Vehkaoja, M., & Nummi, P. (2016). Beaver-created deadwood dynamics in the boreal forest. Forest Ecology and Management, 360 (Supplement C), 1-8. doi:

Abstract: Deadwood is a markedly important ecosystem element, and increasingly rare in managed landscapes. Beavers (Castor sp.) are ecosystem engineers of the boreal forest, where they modify riparian forests and wetlands through damming. The subsequent inundation causes extensive die-off of trees in the flood zone. We measured the deadwood volumes and types for six beaver-created flood sites, and compared these to control sites with no beaver influence. Our results show beavers create abundant volumes of deadwood in areas rarely experiencing other disturbance types. Significant amounts of beaver-created deadwood consist of rare types, e.g. snags and deciduous wood. Both coarse and fine woody debris are created. These varying substrates increase deadwood heterogeneity and create differing saproxylic community diversity compared to other disturbances. The roaming lifestyle of beavers cause repeated flooding in boreal landscapes. This upholds deadwood continuity in areas where deadwood levels are very low due to intensive forest management. The reoccurring pulses of deadwood created by beavers may facilitate a wide scope of deadwood-dependent species. The beaver can be used as a deadwood facilitator and engine of restoration in boreal wetlands and riparian forests. This is an economic option compared to costly and time-consuming man-made restoration.


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More to come….