Do introduced North American beavers Castor canadensis engineer differently in southern South America? An overview with implications for restoration

Department of Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina, USA,
Mammal Review (Impact Factor: 3.42). 10/2008; 39(1):33 - 52. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2907.2008.00136.x

ABSTRACT Twenty-five pairs of North American beavers Castor canadensis Kuhl were introduced to Tierra del Fuego Island in 1946. The population has expanded across the archipelago, arriving at the Chilean mainland by the mid-1990s. Densities range principally between 0.5-2.05 colonies/km. They have an impact on between 30-50% of stream length and occupy 2-15% of landscape area with impoundments and meadows. Beaver impacts constitute the largest landscape-level alteration in subantarctic forests since the last ice age. 2. The colonization pattern, colony densities and impacted area indicate that habitat in the austral archipelago is optimal for beaver invasion, due to low predator pressure and suitable food resources. Nothofagus pumilio forests are particularly appropriate habitat, but a more recent invasion is occurring in adjacent steppe ecosystems. Nonetheless, Nothofagus repro- ductive strategies are not well adapted to sustain high beaver population levels. 3. Our assessment shows that at the patch-scale in stream and riparian ecosystems, the direction and magnitude of exotic beaver impacts are predictable from expectations derived from North American studies, relating ecosystem engineering with underlying ecological mechanisms such as the relationships of habitat heterogeneity and productivity on species richness and ecosystem function. 4. Based on data from the species' native and exotic range, our ability to predict the effects of beavers is based on: (i) understanding the ecological relationships of its engineering effects on habitat, trophic dynamics and disturbance regimes, and (ii) having an adequate compre- hension of the landscape context and natural history of the ecosystem being engineered. 5. We conclude that beaver eradication strategies and subsequent ecosystem restoration efforts, currently being considered in southern Chile and Argentina, should focus on the ecology of native ecosystems rather than the biology of this invasive species per se. Further- more, given the nature of the subantarctic landscape, streams will probably respond to restoration efforts more quickly than riparian ecosystems.

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    ABSTRACT: RESUMEN Las propuestas de manejo forestal para Tierra del Fuego y Patagonia Sur se basan en el manejo silvopastoril para Nothofagus antarctica (ñire), y cortas de protección y raleo para Nothofagus pumilio (lenga). Ambas propuestas producen impactos sobre los componentes bióticos y abióticos del bosque original. El objetivo de este capítulo es analizar las propuestas de manejo, planteando alternativas que prioricen el equilibrio entre producción y conservación a partir de las investigaciones actuales. Se analizan diferentes escalas en la planificación del manejo forestal y estrategias de conservación (macro, meso y micro-escala), describiendo ventajas y costos incrementales de su aplicación. En particular, se describe la aplicación de la retención variable como técnica complementaria de las cortas de protección, para minimizar los impactos de la cosecha a escala de rodal sobre las variables abióticas y bióticas. Asimismo, se analiza la regeneración natural como la variable de mayor importancia en los monitoreos post-cosecha, junto con los factores limitantes del ciclo y la posterior dinámica en parcelas de investigación a largo plazo, así como los resultados de ensayos de raleos y podas comerciales. Finalmente, se describen las carencias en el conocimiento científico y técnico desarrollado hasta el presente, a fin de mejorar la implementación del manejo 8 La producción forestal y la conservación de la biodiversidad en los bosques de Nothofagus en Tierra del Fuego y Patagonia Sur. Timber production and biodiversity conservation in Nothofagus forests of Tierra del Fuego and southern Patagonia. 156 forestal actual. A partir de este análisis se proponen diez desafíos a tener en cuenta para la próxima década. Palabras clave: manejo forestal, silvicultura, conservación, retención variable, regeneración, impacto, lenga, ñire. SUMMARY Forest management for Tierra del Fuego and southern Patagonia are based mainly on silvopastoral use of Nothofagus antarctica (ñire), and shelterwood cuts and thinnings for Nothofagus pumilio (lenga). Both proposals had impacts over biotic and abiotic components of the original forests. The objective of this chapter was to analyze these management practices by introducing a concept of equilibrium between timber production and conservation. Different planning scales (macro-, meso-and micro-scale) were analyzed for forest management and conservation including advantages and implementation. In particular, variable retention implementation was described as complementary technique of the shelterwood cuts, where harvesting impacts over abiotic and biotic scale at stand level were minimized. Natural regeneration, as one of the most important variable in the post-harvesting monitoring, also was analyzed. Limiting factors in the whole reproductive cycle, their natural dynamics in long-term research plots, commercial thinnings and prunings were described. Finally, it was identified the main actual scientific and technical knowledge gaps in order to improve the future research and implementation in the current forest management.
    Silvicultura en bosques nativos: Avances en la investigación en Chile, Argentina y Nueva Zelanda, Edited by P Donoso, A Promis, 12/2013: chapter La producción forestal y la conservación de la biodiversidad en los bosques de Nothofagus en Tierra del Fuego y Patagonia Sur.: pages 155-179; Universidad Austral de Chile., ISBN: 978-956-7173-32-7
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    Latin American Journal of Aquatic Research 11/2012; 40(4):881-892. · 0.42 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: _______________________________________________________________________________________ SUMMARY In 2007, a field visit by members of the International Mire Conservation Group (IMCG) to the Atlantic coast of Peninsula Mitre (the easternmost part of Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego, Argentina) gathered information on mire diversity in this remote wild area with largely pristine mires. Our expedition showed that Peninsula Mitre hosts a wide variety of habitats across two exciting ecological gradients: (i) a regional west–east gradient from Sphagnum magellanicum dominated mires in the west to Astelia pumila dominated mires in the east; and (ii) a gradient from extremely acid to extremely carbonate rich mire types induced by local bedrock. The large variety of hydromorphological mire types comprises raised bogs, blanket bogs, sloping fens, string fens, flat fens and calcareous spring fens. In the Atlantic coastal area, the abundance of Sphagnum magellanicum in the ombrogenic systems decreases conspicuously from west to east with the species being almost absent in the east. However, the fossil record shows thick layers of Sphagnum peat close beneath mire surfaces everywhere, indicating that substantial hydrological and ecological changes have taken place in the recent past. We observed large scale erosion in the mires along the Atlantic coast. Locally, well-developed fen systems are present, including calcareous spring fens with active travertine (tufa) deposition. The regional vegetation can be regarded as a parallel to that of boreal oceanic regions in the northern hemisphere. The mires and peatlands of the peninsula are of global significance. They are impressive, peculiar, extensive and largely pristine mires in a globally very rare climatic and biogeographical context embedded in a landscape with significant natural dynamics. The damaging impact of free-roaming cattle on the mires and upland vegetation is, however, conspicuous and needs urgent attention. Peninsula Mitre deserves the highest possible protection, e.g. as a provincial protected area and a World Heritage Site.

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