Browsing by Subject "ecosystem engineer"

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  • Kivinen, Sonja; Nummi, Petri; Kumpula, Timo (2020)
    Beavers (Castorsp.) are ecosystem engineers that cause significant changes to their physical environment and alter the availability of resources to other species. We studied flood dynamics created by American beaver (C. canadensisK.) in a southern boreal landscape in Finland in 1970-2018. We present for the first time, to our knowledge, a temporally continuous long-term study of beaver-induced flood disturbances starting from the appearance of beaver in the area. During the 49 years, the emergence of new sites flooded by beaver and repeated floods (61% of the sites) formed a dynamic mosaic characterized by clustered patterns of beaver sites. As beaver dispersal proceeded, connectivity of beaver sites increased significantly. The mean flood duration was approximately three years, which highlights the importance of datasets with high-temporal resolution in detecting beaver-induced disturbances. An individual site was often part of the active flood mosaic over several decades, although the duration and the number of repeated floods at different sites varied considerably. Variation of flood-inundated and post-flood phases at individual sites resulted in a cumulative number of unique patches that contribute to environmental heterogeneity in space and time. A disturbance mosaic consisting of patches differing by successional age and flood history is likely to support species richness and abundance of different taxa and facilitate whole species communities. Beavers are thus a suitable means to be used in restoration of riparian habitat due to their strong and dynamic influence on abiotic environment and its biotic consequences.
  • Nummi, Petri; Suontakanen, Eeva-Maria; Holopainen, Sari; Väänänen, Veli-Matti (2019)
    Avian species respond to ecological variability at a range of spatial scales and according to life history stage. Beaver dams create wetland systems for waterbirds that are utilized throughout different stages of the breeding season. We studied how beaver?induced variability affected mobile pairs and more sedentary broods along with the production of Common Teal Anas crecca at the patch and landscape scale on their breeding grounds. Beavers Castor spp. are ecosystem engineers that enhance waterfowl habitats by impeding water flow and creating temporary flooding. Two landscapes in southern Finland with (Evo) and without (Nuuksio) American Beavers Castor canadensis were used in this study. To investigate the patch?scale effect, pair and brood densities along with brood production were first compared at beaver?occupied lakes and non?beaver lakes in the beaver landscape. Annual pair and brood densities/km shoreline and brood production were compared between beaver and non?beaver landscapes. Facilitative effects of beaver activity were manifest on brood density at both patch and landscape scales: these were over 90 and 60 percent higher in beaver patches and landscapes, respectively. An effect of beaver presence on pair density was only seen at the landscape level. Pair density did not strongly affect brood production, as shown earlier for relatively mildly density?dependent Teal populations. Because the extent of beaver flooding was a crucial factor affecting annual Teal production in the study area, we infer beaver activity has consequences for the local Teal population. Ecosystem engineering by the beaver could therefore be considered as a restoration tool in areas where waterfowl are in need of high?quality habitats. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.