Monday, July 6, 2020

Beaver dam, why it is an essential for the thriving areas?

Beaver will keep on working on its dam mostly during the night. Photo: Twitter

Beaver is a nice cute creature with different functions in nature. While building its home, beaver's also creating a suitable environment for other creatures to flourish to form a complete ecosystem. Instead important to all of the animals, beaver dam also important for the environment, especially in drought control and also for the underground water supply.

Once, there are more than 60 millions of beaver in North American alone. Anyway, hunting for fur and the beaver glands make the number decreased to 6 to 12 million by 1988. There are long way to go to restore the number of beaver back to its original. While we can see the impact of drought, flooding, erosion,  and underground water shortage become more serious. This also decreasing the number's of plants and animals that thriving together with beaver dam.

There are 2 main types of beaver in the world.

The skulls of North American beaver and Eurasian beaver. Photo: wikipedia.

North American beaver (Castor canadensis) - this species can be found on the American continent. Where most of the beaver today are found in the North, mostly in Canada. That's where the largest beaver dam can be found today.  

Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber) - compared to their American cousin's, Eurasian beaver was hunted nearly to extinction in Europe. The beaver was totally extinct in Great Britain in the sixteenth century. It was said that the total number of Eurasia beaver was 100 million had fallen to 1000. With beaver protection in over 24 European countries the number of Eurasian beaver now estimated to reach to 639,000 in mainland Europe.

Beaver lodges

The diagram of beaver lodge and their areas. Photo: wikipedia.

Other than creating the dam, beaver will also build their homes that called lodges. This dome-like home was constructed using branches and mud. The lodges often will located in the middle of the ponds and the entrances will be underwater. This lodge can be home to several extended families of monogamous parents. Sometimes there can be more than one lodges in the same beaver dam.

In the lodge there are separate areas for the beaver to drying themselves when coming out of the water and the drying area where the family lives. The dens also provided with ventilation to allow the air flows properly. Usually there will be another alternative entrance into the dens.

Foods

Beaver only eating the tree barks, leaves, small branches, twigs, roots and aquatic plants. So, it will leave other animals live in their pond. The thriving creatures from aquatic plants and animals will increase in number as long as the dam is maintained by the beaver's family. Increasing numbers of fishes and other animals will also attract migrating birds and other animals for foods and water. The beaver dam will allow beavers to reach its food source without exposing it to predators such as coyote, wild cat, bear or any other enemies.

Beaver never goes to hibernate during the winter season. It will keep enough food supplies in its' dent, for the rest of the family. Beavers eat leaves, roots and bark from aspens, willows, maples and poplar trees. They also eat aquatic plants.

Even though the beaver dam will increase the water level. The changes made by the beaver will never reach to the scales that produce by human (by creating a dam). In other words, it's not damaging, but instead, it's enrich the environment.

Important of beaver to Ecosystem

The different on the surrounding areas of beaver dam. Photo: eurekalert.org

Beaver dam helps other animal to flourish and create its own ecosystem. Besides, its water catchment area keeps the area rich with life. It will also protect the area from becoming too dry during drought season - as this problem has become more serious lately, include the shortage amount of underground water.

Beaver dam slows down the flow of water that can cause an erosion. The sediment rich pond will promote growth of water plants that also become the sanctuary of small creatures, allowing bigger animals also thrive in the same area. This water catchment will avoid the nutrient in the soils from directly wash into the sea and clogged the river delta that can also cause flooding.

In the long term, the beaver dam will enrich the nearby areas as you can see it in the photos. With the increasing of vegetation, it's not only avoid further erosion, but also increase the numbers of floras and faunas in the areas. With continuous water supply provided by the beaver dam, it further prevents the desertification of the areas.  

Biggest beaver dam

One of the beaver dam area. Photo: argentinaexplorationjourneys.com

So far the biggest beaver dam known to human measured, 850 m long in Alberta, Canada, is the world's biggest and can be seen from space. Beavers have been building the dam since 1975. The dam was constructed by the family of beaver from fewer generations. The beaver was known to live in groups of families.

This dam was located deep in the Wood Buffalo National Park that only realized by satellite image by a researcher. Even the ranger of the park are not aware of it existent when contacted by the BBC film crew, when they learned about the beaver dam from the researcher's website.

Link for the largest beaver dam in Google Map


People keep destroying beaver dam.

There are still many people destroying beaver dams for taking part of their land. The collapse between human and beaver can only be avoided by understanding how these creatures work in enriching the ecosystem. Without understanding how's nature's works we might be not only destroying important creatures but also ourselves.

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