European Journal of Wildlife Research
Eurasian beaver, Castor fiber, Beaver dams, Dam capacity, Modelling, Management, Habitat
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Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber) populations are expanding across Europe. Depending on location, beaver dams bring multiple benefits and/or require management. Using nationally available data, we developed: a Beaver Forage Index (BFI), identifying beaver foraging habitat, and a Beaver Dam Capacity (BDC) model, classifying suitability of river reaches for dam construction, to estimate location and number of dams at catchment scales. Models were executed across three catchments, in Great Britain (GB), containing beaver. An area of 6747 km2 was analysed for BFI and 16,739 km of stream for BDC. Field surveys identified 258 km of channel containing beaver activity and 89 dams, providing data to test predictions. Models were evaluated using a categorical binomial Bayesian framework to calculate probability of foraging and dam construction. BFI and BDC models successfully categorised the use of reaches for foraging and damming, with higher scoring reaches being preferred. Highest scoring categories were ca. 31 and 79 times more likely to be used than the lowest for foraging and damming respectively. Zero-inflated negative binomial regression showed that modelled dam capacity was significantly related (p = 0.01) to observed damming and was used to predict numbers of dams that may occur. Estimated densities of dams, averaged across each catchment, ranged from 0.4 to 1.6 dams/km, though local densities may be up to 30 dams/km. These models provide fundamental information describing the distribution of beaver foraging habitat, where dams may be constructed and how many may occur. This supports the development of policy and management concerning the reintroduction and recolonisation of beaver.
Graham, H.A., Puttock, A., Macfarlane, W.W. et al. Modelling Eurasian beaver foraging habitat and dam suitability, for predicting the location and number of dams throughout catchments in Great Britain. Eur J Wildl Res 66, 42 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10344-020-01379-w