Jonathan Diamond

Student Speaker | Étudiant.e

The North American beaver (Castor canadensis) is a specialized rodent with the ability to drastically alter ecosystems by building dams and lodges, as well as alter forest communities through their foraging behaviors. In fact, the beaver is a herbivorous generalist with clear preferences - coining them as “choosy generalists.” Additionally, these preferences vary based on habitat, species availability, stem sizes, and other factors. As such, beaver foraging preferences impact forest communities in a heterogeneous way, with lasting impacts that affect forestry management. As a widely distributed rodent in both North America and Europe, it is vital to further investigate how woody plant species-level selection varies across the entire beaver range. Yet, not much is known on large-scale species-level foraging by the beaver with respect to woody mechanical traits. Therefore, we will evaluate how beavers’ species-level foraging selectivity varies in response to woody plant abundance and mechanical trait disparities. Specifically, we will investigate how these globally preferred plants relate to hardness and density. This will be achieved by synthesizing the available literature on beaver species-level foraging preference and the associated hardness and density characteristics of the preferred plants. We will generate a co-variate model to quantify how species-level selection by beavers is directed by abundance and mechanical traits. We anticipate that as energy maximizers, the beaver will prefer plants that are less hard facilitating their foraging. Further, we expect to see a similar but weaker relationship with wood density, as density is linked to nutritional value as well as resistance to herbivory. Keywords: North American beaver, Castor Canadensis, mechanical plant traits, foraging behavior, forest Management, forest ecology.