Mammalian Biology

, Volume 76, Issue 4, pp 436–444 | Cite as

Seasonal, diel, and ontogenetic patterns of within-den behavior in beavers (Castor canadensis)

  • Cy L. MottEmail author
  • Craig K. Bloomquist
  • Clayton K. Nielsen
Original Investigation


Despite the ubiquity of denning as a natural history strategy among terrestrial vertebrates, little is known regarding basic patterns of within-den behavior, how such patterns are influenced by demographic and environmental parameters, or how within-den behavioral repertoires relate to activities performed in external environments. Den usage is believed to facilitate increased expression of behaviors that compromise fitness in external environments, though empirical data validating these assumptions are generally lacking. Relative isolation from external light cues within dens has been linked to temporal patterns of den use, yet few studies examine associations between photoperiod and rhythmicity strictly for within-den behavior. Also, for denning species with relatively equivalent parental investment, conclusions regarding sex-specific behavior have been equivocal, and no studies have examined potential segregation of parental activity within dens. We videorecorded 1506 h of within-den activity from 23 beaver (Castor canadensis) colonies and characterized behavioral patterns based on sex and age over daily and monthly intervals. Within-den time-activity budgets were equivalent among male and female adult beavers, with feeding, sleeping, allogrooming, and individual grooming accounting for more than 95% of all recorded behaviors. Behavioral repertoires within dens exhibited distinct seasonality and were influenced by temporal variation in external conditions associated with food availability, indicating linkages between activities within and outside of dens. Lastly, beaver age classes varied considerably in their associations between diel activity patterns and photoperiod, with adults and kits exhibiting single and multiple sleep–wake cycles, respectively.


Beavers (Castor canadensisDenning Parental care Remote videography Social mammals 


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Copyright information

© Deutsche Gesellschaft für Säugetierkunde 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cy L. Mott
    • 1
    Email author
  • Craig K. Bloomquist
    • 1
    • 2
  • Clayton K. Nielsen
    • 1
  1. 1.Cooperative Wildlife Research Laboratory, Department of ZoologySouthern Illinois UniversityCarbondaleUSA
  2. 2.USDA-APHIS-Wildlife ServicesChicagoUSA

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