Beaver as Agents of Plant Disturbance
Contribution to Book
Plant Disturbance Ecology: The Process and the Response
Beaver are important agents of plant disturbance in wetland and riparian environments. They have two roles as a plant disturbance agent. They have earned the title of ecosystem engineers as one of their more remarkable aspects is their ability to alter physical ecosystem processes through building dam and canal networks. Beaver also are herbivores, capable of cutting woody vegetation at scales rivaled only by humans. This chapter includes information on beaver biology and ecology, the hydrologic and geomorphic changes incurred in wetlands and riparian systems by dam-building beavers, and how plants and plant communities respond to herbivory and habitat modifications made by beaver. Also described are beaver impacts to plant communities in wetlands and riparian areas disturbed by other agents. The chapter concludes by identifying pressing research questions.
Westbrook, C. J. 2021. Beaver as agents of plant disturbance. Plant Disturbance Ecology. Elsevier. pp. 489-528.