Beavers as Ecosystem Engineers

There are multiple studies proving that biodiversity is better maintained in the presence of beavers.  One study I looked at was conducted in Illinois, and it found that beaver ranges are larger when located in the main river as opposed to tributaries and also when further from agricultural areas.  Another studied conducted in Lithuania determined that hilly, uplands had a higher beaver population and were more intensely impacted than plain landscapes, probably partially because the plains had fewer streams and were harder to transform.  The plain landscapes were still inhabited by beavers.  And another study done in Canada, found that beaver impacted biodiversity is higher in agricultural areas than in protected areas.  Overall, beavers will seek out ideal habitats to transform into their homes, but beavers are still able to transform and thrive in non-ideal habitats because of their extraordinary ability to transform ecosystems.


Photo from Dr. Huryn’s Freshwater Studies class in the fall of 2013.

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