The Loh Down On Science

Beavers improve the environment for other animals

Beavers.  Cute, buck-toothed, paddley-tailed—and key to the survival of all species? 

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science

Saying, if not quite that, beavers may be more critical to their ecosystems than we thought.

Canadian scientists studying beaver ponds in Alberta discovered something: Beaver-occupied ponds tend to thaw almost eleven days earlier than unoccupied ones. Why? Because the activity of busy beavers warms and moves the water! This melts ice and snow sooner than would happen naturally.

The open water attracts geese, who have returned home to begin spring nesting. Thanks to beavers, they have earlier access to food from the ponds. Plus, beaver lodges provide a safe place on which to nest. Especially when they're located in the middle of ponds rather than on the banks. 
    
Other animals such as foxes, coyotes, and moose also benefit from the early thaw. 

Scientists call beavers a "keystone" species, for their beneficial impact on other animals and the environment.

No surprise as, let’s face it: beavers give a dam.  Sorry.

 

For more on BEAVERS, KEYSTONE SPECIES, or more 90-SECOND SCIENCE FACTS, click here. To find out about a contest to win $1,000 for your school, click here.

The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, with 89.3 KPCC Pasadena, California. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

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