European Beavers Build Better Bat Habitats

eurasian beaver photo

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

The reintroduction of beavers may be a nightmare for farmers and landowners, but new research indicates that at least one unexpected forest dweller—aerial-hawking bats—reap major benefits from the activities of the tree-felling rodents.Mateusz Ciechanowski, who authored the study recently published in the European Journal of Wildlife Research, explained:

Bats are very skilled fliers, but those species who hawk prey in the air, cannot effectively hunt in a very dense forest.

By thinning the forest canopy, beavers open space for the bats to maneuver, but also to better utilize their echolocation. Dense branches interfere with echolocation by making sound waves bounce unpredictably.

The more often studied impact of beaver activity is related to river and stream health. This, too, Ciechanowski's research found, supports bats. By slowing down the flow of a stream, beavers encourage a vibrant aquatic ecosystem which leads to a dramatic increase in biodiversity. This includes, it turns out, water-spawning insects—the favorite food source of aerial-hawking bats.

It's just another example, Ciechanowski says, of the beaver's ability to rebuild habitats—and the value of reintroducing it.

Read more about beavers:
Massive Beaver Dam Visible From Space
Scotland's Battle Over the Beaver
Conservationists Could Gather River Restoration Tips From Beavers

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