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Beavers are important ecosystem engineers that create wetlands around the world, storing water and creating habitat for numerous other species. Castor canadensis, the American Beaver, a Wetland Ecosystem Engineer. Before the beaver population was decimated in Rocky Mountain National Park, their complexes stored 2.7 million megagrams of carbon—the equivalent of what's trapped in 37,000 acres of forest. Buy Beavers: Boreal Ecosystem Engineers by Johnston, Carol A. Beavers used to live in almost every stream in North America (except in the arid southwest), and number 100-200 million. On the day of relocation, we got an early start moving and packing the beavers into large cages for transport: two adults per cage, and all three kits in their own little cage. The whole time we were loading, the beavers seemed more curious than anything, taking in their new surroundings and crisp mountain air. Their final destination, and their new family home, was a crystal clear mountain stream about an hour south of Denver. The weight of beaver ponds forces water into the ground, recharging the aquifers that we're depleting at a breakneck pace. Ecologists call beaver "ecosystem engineers" because these animals physically alter habitats by cutting down trees, building dams, digging canals and building lodges. Just an hour later, we were unloading the cages from the trucks, and loading them onto the back of an ATV. We secured our passengers with an army’s worth of straps and bungees, making sure our precious cargo was safe and secure. The PhD research aims to quantify what the wide range of aquatic ecological impacts of beavers might be, including effects on fish, macro-invertebrates and vegetation, across a range of sites in England, embedded within a project team which are leading beaver reintroduction monitoring and modelling across all major beaver sites in the UK. This specific beaver family’s former home, a stream on the north of Denver, is slated for re-alignment this winter. At the conception of the 'ecosystem engineer' model, Jones et al. That magic is a potent weapon in fighting the effects of climate change. Some researchers estimate that ponds hold up to 10 times as much water belowground as above it. New plants and animals will move in and take advantage of the beavers and all their hard work. Biologists often call beavers “ecosystem engineers” because their dams create wetlands and new habitats for plants, aquatic insects, amphibians, fish and birds. Within a year, the area around their home will be quite different; within five years, even more changed. Beavers are back - literally! Wetlands are cradles of life: In some arid regions, they support 80 percent of the species despite covering just 2 percent of the landscape. For three days in a row, live-traps were set out in the late afternoon, hidden along the shoreline within the vegetation, and baited with a lure that beavers find irresistible. Sign up to receive daily reports about how you can enjoy, explore, and protect the planet. In fact, beavers are referred to as ‘ecosystem engineers’. The facilitative effect of the beaver Castor canadensis on a waterbird community of seven species of waders and ducks in boreal ponds was studied by using the before–after control–impact method (BACI) … By signing up, you are opting in to receive periodic communications from the Sierra Club. In the Canadian Rockies, scientists calculated that beaver ponds raised water tables by half a foot. Join the conversation on social media. The stream engineering will destroy the beaver’s home and habitat. Rangers described the beavers as ‘ecosystem engineers’ as they created an ‘instant wetland’ just nine months after they were introduced to slow the flow of water and improve river quality. Ben Goldfarb is the author of Eager: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter. The third night, we caught four more beavers, including the matriarch, a mature 40-45 pound beaver. This article appeared in the July/August 2018 edition with the headline "Ecosystem Engineer.". Like what you read? In 1948, for instance, biologists packed 76 beavers into crates and parachuted them into the Idaho backcountry (all but one survived the drop). Salmon are vital to the Northwest's ecosystems and Native American cultures, and beavers are vital to salmon. 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