Beavers are now running wild in parts of the UK for the first time in 400 years after being successfully reintroduced a few years ago, but the impact they have on the areas around them hasn’t really been looked at until now. The University of Helsinki have released a study on how Beavers are beneficial to the areas they inhabit.
Here’s the summary of their findings:
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 theice-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.
This gives great support to the rewilding of Beavers in parts of Scotland and England where there has been great debate about the potential positive and negative impacts they would have on the environment, to the point of some being illegally shot . There should be no argument that an animal that has historically lived in these areas has the right to roam there again and this study is fantastic news for Beavers in general and should go some way to show how beneficial they can be for biodiversity.
Now where are the Moose?!