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Article

Why Do Beavers Leave Home? Lodge Abandonment in an Invasive Population in Patagonia

1
Forest Research Institute, Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue (UQAT), 445 boul. de l’Université, Rouyn-Noranda, QC J9X5E4, Canada
2
Campus of Amos, Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue, 341 Rue Principal Nord, Amos, QC J9T 2L8, Canada
3
Centre for Forest Research, Département des Sciences Biologiques, Université du Québec à Montréal, Case 9 postale 8888, Succursale Centre-ville, Montréal, QC H3C3P8, Canada
4
Restoration Ecology Group, Department of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), 901 83 Umeå, Sweden
5
Department of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, 75007 Uppsala, Sweden
6
Instituto de Bio y Geociencias del NOA (IBIGEO), Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET), Universidad de Salta, 4400 Salta, Argentina
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Forests 2020, 11(11), 1161; https://doi.org/10.3390/f11111161
Received: 14 October 2020 / Revised: 27 October 2020 / Accepted: 30 October 2020 / Published: 31 October 2020
Research Highlights: Lodge abandonment by beavers is apparently a common phenomenon in Patagonia, but it is still poorly understood and we ignore what drives it. In relatively slow growth Nothofagus forests, resource depletion can impact abandonment while water availability may be a major driver in the semiarid steppe. Background and Objectives: North American beaver (Castor canadensis) was introduced in 1946 on the island of Tierra del Fuego (TDF) in southern Argentina. Since then, beavers have become a major disturbance affecting not only forest but also treeless steppe landscapes. Our goal was to determine the factors affecting lodge abandonment by beavers in two habitats of TDF: forest and steppe. Materials and Methods: A total of 47 lodges were surveyed between February and March from 2012 to 2014 in both habitat types, 22 in the forest and 25 in the steppe. To explain factors involved in lodge abandonment by beavers, we measured the following variables: water level variation, stream gradient, vegetation cover adjacent to shore and forest structure. Results: We recorded 24 abandonments events, with a similar proportion of lodges abandoned in both habitats. Our results revealed that lodge abandonment was mostly linked to water level fluctuations irrespective of habitat type. The water level at the entrances of the lodge generally decreased in abandoned lodges. Variables that characterize understory cover had some influence on lodge abandonment in the forest, and no effect in the steppe. Conclusions: Water level variation was associated with lodge abandonment in both habitats, and we found some evidence of resource depletion in the forest. However, we caution that changes in water level may be not only due to extrinsic factors but rather to beaver’s own activities or to a decay in pond maintenance following abandonment. View Full-Text
Keywords: Argentina; biological invasions; ecosystem engineer; lodge occupancy; Nothofagus Argentina; biological invasions; ecosystem engineer; lodge occupancy; Nothofagus
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MDPI and ACS Style

Feldman, M.J.; Girona, M.M.; Grosbois, G.; Pietrek, A.G. Why Do Beavers Leave Home? Lodge Abandonment in an Invasive Population in Patagonia. Forests 2020, 11, 1161. https://doi.org/10.3390/f11111161

AMA Style

Feldman MJ, Girona MM, Grosbois G, Pietrek AG. Why Do Beavers Leave Home? Lodge Abandonment in an Invasive Population in Patagonia. Forests. 2020; 11(11):1161. https://doi.org/10.3390/f11111161

Chicago/Turabian Style

Feldman, Mariano J.; Girona, Miguel M.; Grosbois, Guillaume; Pietrek, Alejandro G. 2020. "Why Do Beavers Leave Home? Lodge Abandonment in an Invasive Population in Patagonia" Forests 11, no. 11: 1161. https://doi.org/10.3390/f11111161

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