Environmental Benefits of Beavers
Beavers are known as both keystone species and ecosystem engineers.
- A keystone species greatly influences the species composition and physical appearance of ecosystems. Its effects on ecosystem structure and function are large overall and disproportionately large relative to its abundance.
- An ecosystem engineer creates, significantly modifies, maintains, or destroys a habitat, and consequently has a large impact on the species richness and landscape-level heterogeneity of an area.
Beaver ponds are well documented to create habitat for and host an incredible array of biodiversity. They create wetlands that attract wide varieties of plant and animal species. Beavers and beaver ponds typically affect biodiversity by increasing:
- habitat for birds, amphibians, mammals, and fish, including coho salmon.
- species composition and abundance of stream invertebrates.
- density, distribution, species composition, and population characteristics of fish populations.
Beaver ponds impact geologic and ecological processes by:
- reducing the extremes of flash flooding and dry streambeds.
- storing sediment.
- reducing erosion.
- filtering out pollutants.
- modifying the biogeochemical characteristics of streams.
- fundamentally influencing forest ecosystem dynamics at landscape scales.