Beaver activity helps shape forest community composition

Here is a poster about how beaver activity has impacted structure and composition within the large tree community at Mary S. Young Park:


Why this poster format?

Idea brought to my attention via this video. I agree posters are very difficult to digest especially in a “poster session”. So I’m giving it a try! This is the first time. Both the author of the video and I are open to feedback.

When I first looked at the results it was immediately apparent that beaver activity was removing fast growing competitors of Oregon White Oak including Black Cottonwood, Doug Fir, Big Leaf Maple, and Oregon Ash. Oregon White Oaks have the ability to flourish in floodplains where Doug Fir fail to survive root inundation. Ash, maple, and cottonwood can flourish in floodplains as well, but these species are preferred food source for Oregon beavers. Could it be that beavers promote Oregon White Oak habitat in riparian areas? Scientific literature does not address this question, but it should. Oregon White Oak habitat is among the most degraded in the nation with only 2% remaining from the range prior to European occupation. Agricultural development and loss of native communities are frequently cited as the major drivers behind the loss of white oak ecosystems. This work suggests beavers played a big role in these dynamics as well. However, much more work needs to be done to prove this hypothesis! MSY is but one small region, and more sites need to be assessed to help determine a relationship. In the mean time, Parks & Rec management will use this finding to continue to promote white oak growth. Oaks are protected by beaver herbivory, and water levels are encouraged to increase within the forest to help choke out conifers. We’ll keep an eye on this site to further assess changes related to beaver activity.


You can see the SAME and SIDE by SIDE poster designed using the common style at these links:

MSY tree project poster