Posted by: BibleScienceGuy | February 15, 2011

6. Beavers Are Environmental Keystones

Continuing the series on Beavers

Stories abound of inconvenient, even destructive flooding caused by beavers. People awake to find driveways and roads flooded by dammed ditches and culverts, and yards turned into swamps. People go to bed with valuable yard trees but awake to beaver-gnawed stumps. Such activities perturb people to strong language and animus toward beavers. In North America beaver damage is $20 million annually.

Beaver PR is less effective than beaver engineering, so beaver benefits are less well-known. Beavers are actually nature’s conservationists.

During the Great Hurricane of September 1938, beaver dams retarded flooding, thereby saving bridges, highways, and lives. At Stony Point, NY, 60 colonies comprising over 500 beavers tended dams throughout the storm in 42,000-acre Bear Mountain Park. Sixty dams were the primary defense against rain-swollen rivers and lakes.

Beavers faced seemingly insurmountable problems. A beaver dam across a 3-foot stream formed 5-acre Long Mountain Pond. The hurricane doubled the pond and turned the stream into a 20-foot-wide torrent pouring 18 inches deep over the dam.

Beavers worked all night cutting trees to reinforce submerged dams. The beavers’ log, stone, and mud bulwarks held. Officials credited beavers with saving 3 highways, 2 main roads, and at least 1 bridge, as well as preventing erosion of hundreds of acres.

Beaverworks help control stream flow, distribute water evenly, and prevent soil erosion; they prevent floods and dried-up streams. Leaky beaver dams form reservoirs which store water and distribute it throughout dry periods. Dams delay runoff so water can soak into the ground and soil can be deposited locally rather than washed downstream. The Rockies are replete with fertile beaver-meadows which are dried up beaver ponds.

Many beaver dams become semi-permanent with accumulated soil. Vegetation roots on dams further fixing them. Wildlife use dams for bridges across waterways.

Beavers are dredgers of streams, rivers, and ponds, helping maintain waterway depths. Beaver wetlands filter like kidneys, purifying water as it passes through.

Beavers are environmental keystones. Their dams are the primary natural methods for establishing lakes and wetlands. Beaver-originated wetlands provide habitats and nourishment for scores of species, from frogs to turtles to ducks to herons to moose. Fishermen appreciate the deep pools beavers construct along waterways. Bird watchers find rare specimens in beaver wetlands.

Recent research demonstrates that beavers benefit other species through their logging activities. Felling trees thins the forest canopy. This helps bats catch more insects because it reduces interfering sonar echoes from foliage.

Beaver dams create ponds which provide habitats for insects, thereby increasing the insect population and bat food supply.

Read this BBC report on recent research demonstrating beavers’ value in maintaining woodland habitats: European beavers construct ideal habitats for bats

The Creator has designed His creation with checks and balances. Beavers moderate extremes and help maintain creation’s balance. Man would be wise to encourage beaver colonies on woodland streams by waiving construction permits and logging licenses.

Beavers are a key factor in conservation and preservation of a healthy earth.

Soli Deo Gloria.

Read my full discussion of beavers in three recent newspaper articles:
2010.09 Busy Beavers
2010.10 Beaver Life
2010.11 Beaver Benefits

Read the prequels in this series of blog posts on Beavers:
1. Beavers – Intro
2. Beavers in Troy
3. Busy Beavers
4. Looking for Beavers
5. Beavers and Intelligent Design

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©William T. Pelletier, Ph.D.
“contending earnestly for the faith”
“destroying speculations against the knowledge of God”
(Jude 1:3; 2 Cor 10:4)
Tuesday February 15, 2011 A.D.

Read my February 2011 Bible-Science column
Where Did Cain Get His Valentine?.

But now ask the beasts, and let them teach you;
And the birds of the heavens, and let them tell you.
Or speak to the earth, and let it teach you;
And let the fish of the sea declare to you.
Who among all these does not know
That the hand of the LORD has done this,
In whose hand is the life of every living thing,
And the breath of all mankind? (Job 12:7-10)


  1. Hey there! I’ve been following your web site for a long time now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from Austin Texas! Just wanted to tell you keep up the great job!


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