Journal of Mammalian Evolution

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 1–35

Castorid Phylogenetics: Implications for the Evolution of Swimming and Tree-Exploitation in Beavers

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10914-006-9017-3

Cite this article as:
Rybczynski, N. J Mammal Evol (2007) 14: 1. doi:10.1007/s10914-006-9017-3

Abstract

Beavers (Castoridae) are semiaquatic rodents that modify forest and aquatic habitats by exploiting trees as a source of food and building material. The capacity of beavers to transform habitats has attracted interest from a variety of researchers, including ecologists, geomorphologists and evolutionary biologists. This study uses morphological and behavioral evidence from the fossil record to investigate the evolutionary history of tree-exploitation and swimming in beavers. The findings suggest that both behaviors appeared within a single castorid lineage by the beginning of the Miocene, roughly 24 million years ago. Biogeographic results support the hypothesis that tree-exploitation evolved at high latitudes, possibly influenced by the development of hard winters.

Keywords

BeaverBehavioral evolutionBiogeographyCastorFossilPaleontologyPhylogeneticsWoodcutting

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Earth Sciences/PaleobiologyCanadian Museum of NatureOttawaCanada