Beavers are some of the world’s most prolific ecosystem engineers, creating, maintaining and radically altering wetlands almost everywhere they live. But what, if anything, might control this engineering by beavers and influence the formation of North America’s wetlands?
In a paper published Friday in the journal Science Advances, researchers with the University of Minnesota’s Voyageurs Wolf Project and Voyageurs National Park observed and demonstrated that wolves affect wetland ecosystems by killing beavers leaving their colonies to create new ponds.
Beavers are important ecosystem engineers that create wetlands around the world, storing water and creating habitat for numerous other species. This study documents that wolves alter wetland creation when they kill beavers that have left home and created their own dams and ponds. MORE
Header image: Beavers, one of nature’s most prolific ecosystem engineers, can be a substantial summer food source for wolves in many boreal ecosystems. By killing beavers, wolves alter wetland creation and recolonisation patterns in boreal ecosystems, and in turn, all of the important ecological processes associated with beaver-created wetlands. Credit: Voyageurs Wolf Project.