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Abundance and distribution of American beaver, Castor canadensis (Kuhl 1820), in Tierra del Fuego and Navarino islands, Chile


Castor canadensis specimens were imported from Canada and released in the wilderness on the Argentinean part of Tierra del Fuego (TDF) in the year 1946. First studies on the development of the beaver population and subsequent environmental changes were conducted four decades later and indicated a strong expansion of these animals, with negative effects on the forest, especially the dominant Nothofagus sp. Between 1999 and 2001, we investigated the density of the beaver population in the Chilean part of TDF and the southern adjacent island Navarino (NAV). Data were mapped into a geographical information system. The mean colony density was 1.03 (range: 0.15–1.91) and 1.1 per km watercourse for 75% of the area of TDF (mainly south and central region) and the total NAV island, respectively. The average number of individuals estimated per colony was five. Based on these findings, the number of beavers in the Chilean part of TDF and on NAV was estimated at 61,300 individuals. The population is increasing and expanding in the Northern region, with a linear rate of 2.6–6.3 km/year.

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This study was supported in part by Gobierno Regional XII Región, Magallanes Y Antártica Chilena, Gobierno De Chile. We also wish to thank Nicolás Soto and to Edmundo Schuster for his help in the field.

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Correspondence to Oscar Skewes.

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Skewes, O., Gonzalez, F., Olave, R. et al. Abundance and distribution of American beaver, Castor canadensis (Kuhl 1820), in Tierra del Fuego and Navarino islands, Chile. Eur J Wildl Res 52, 292–296 (2006).

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  • American beaver
  • Chile
  • Population density
  • Range expansion
  • Introduced species