Dynamics of Territorial Occupation by North American Beavers in Canadian Boreal Forests: A Novel Dendroecological Approach.
Julie-Pascale Labrecque-Foy, Hubert Morin, Miguel Montoro Girona.
Research Highlights: Our study highlights a new, simple, and effective method for studying the habitat use by beavers in Canadian boreal forests. Information regarding the presence of beaver colonies and their habitat occupation is essential for proper forest management and damage prevention in the boreal forest. Background and Objectives: The North American beaver (Castor canadensis) is a major element of natural disturbance, altering the dynamics and structure of boreal forest landscapes. Beaver-related activities also affect human infrastructure, cause floods, and lead to important monetary losses for forestry industries. Our study aimed to determine the spatiotemporal patterns of beaver occupation of lodges over time. Materials and Methods: Using a dendroecological approach to date browsing activity, we studied the occupation of two lodges per water body for eight water bodies located in the boreal forest of Québec, Canada. Results: Three sites showed alternating patterns of lodge use (occupation) over time, three sites (37.5%) demonstrated no alternating patterns of use, and two sites (25%) presented unclear patterns of lodge use. Conclusions: Alternating patterns of lodge use can be linked to food depletion and the need to regenerate vegetation around lodges, while non-alternating patterns may be related to fluctuations in water levels, the specific shrub and tree species surrounding the lodges, the size of the beaver territory, and the number of lodges present on a water body.