Impact of the keystone species, the Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber), on habitat structure and its significance to mammals

Doctoral thesis Lithuanian OPEN
Samas, Arūnas (2016)
  • Publisher: Institutional Repository of Vilnius University
  • Subject: Eurasian beaver ; Castor fiber ; habitat structure ; small mammals ; camera traps

Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber), the representative of the family Castoridae, which includes two living species of the genus Castor. Beavers are the keystone species, also deservedly known as the ecosystem engineer for the ability to create new habitats and to change the existing landscape. Biology of the Eurasian beaver is well studied, but still, there is a lack of knowledge about the ecology of the species - the relationship with the surrounding environment and biota. These studies were carried out in hilly morainic landscape of eastern Lithuania. The effect the Eurasian beaver on habitat structure was analysed through the prism of the impact on water bodies and terrestrial ecosystems. The density of beaver sites, which reaches 26.1 bst./1000 hectares, is one of the greatest in Lithuania and the extent of the impact can reach up to 12% of the study area. Also, impact of the Eurasian beaver on different groups of mammals (ungulates, medium-size predators, semi-aquatic and small mammals) has been studied. It was found, that roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), red fox (Vulpes vulpes), all semi-aquatic and typical-to-forest habitats small mammals - bank vole (Clethrionomys glareolus) and the yellow-necked mouse (Apodemus flavicollis) have greatest benefits from the Eurasian beaver. Roe deer benefits from the increased heterogeneity of the landscape, while the semi-aquatic and small mammals – from beaver infrastructure elements, like lodges and burrows.
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