, Volume 37, Issue 5, pp 941–949 | Cite as

Factors Affecting Abundance of Beaver Dams in Forested Landscapes

  • Mathilde Lapointe St-Pierre
  • Julie Labbé
  • Marcel Darveau
  • Louis Imbeau
  • Marc J. Mazerolle
Original Research


Beavers are ecosystem engineers that contribute to landscape heterogeneity in North American boreal forests. Despite the importance of beavers on landscapes, beaver distribution is still poorly understood, particularly at large spatial scales and in different ecoregions. The goal of our study was to determine the main environmental features affecting beaver dam abundance across ecoregions. We quantified the spatial distribution of beaver dams in Quebec forests using 257 systematically distributed provincial forestry maps, in which we sampled 1025 plots of 25 km2 in an area several orders of magnitude larger than in previous studies. The study area, covering over 300,000 km2, spanned over six ecoregions (Appalachians, Meridional Laurentians, Central Laurentians, Abitibi and James Bay Lowlands, Mistassini, and Anticosti Island). We constructed 17 candidate regression models using a negative binomial distribution with variables based on different hypotheses to explain beaver dam abundance. The mean stream gradient was the top variable influencing dam abundance, followed by the cover of non-forested land. However, there was substantial variability among ecoregions, as the models that included the random effect of hardwood cover and non-forested cover ranked higher than models without these variables. We conclude that such regional variation in factors affecting dam distribution patterns should be taken into account when establishing beaver management plans.


Beaver dam Wetland Castor canadensis Stream gradient Habitat use 



Funding was provided by the Black Duck Joint Venture, the Canadian Boreal Initiative, Ducks Unlimited Canada, and the Fondation de l’Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue. The Quebec Ministry of Natural Resources and Wildlife (now Ministry of Forests, Wildlife, and Parks) provided forestry maps. Julie Labbé benefited from a Master’s Industrial scholarship – BMP Innovation granted by the Fonds québécois de la recherche sur la nature et les technologies, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and Ducks Unlimited Canada. We thank C. Dussault and M.-H. Saint-Laurent for commenting on an earlier version of the manuscript, and J. Beaulieu, S. Picard and K. Boisvert for their help with GIS analysis.

Supplementary material

13157_2017_929_MOESM1_ESM.docx (79 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 79 kb)
13157_2017_929_MOESM2_ESM.docx (84 kb)
ESM 2 (DOCX 83 kb)
13157_2017_929_MOESM3_ESM.docx (104 kb)
ESM 3 (DOCX 104 kb)


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Copyright information

© Society of Wetland Scientists 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre d’étude de la forêt, Département des sciences du bois et de la forêtUniversité LavalQuébecCanada
  2. 2.Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue and Ducks Unlimited CanadaQuébecCanada
  3. 3.Ducks Unlimited Canada and Université LavalQuébecCanada
  4. 4.Université du Québec en Abitibi-TémiscamingueRouyn-NorandaCanada

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