Beaver lifestyle found to be impacting on global warming

Image credit: Dreamstime

An institution in Finland has released evidence on the growing beaver population and its habitat and the impact on climate change.

The University of Helsinki said the rising number of beaver dams has caused an increase in water levels in rivers and ponds, resulting in organic carbon from the soil being released into the atmosphere.

Petri Nummi, a lecturer at the university, has been observing links between beavers’ lifestyle and global warming. “An increase in the number of beavers has an impact on the climate since a rising water level affects the interaction between beaver ponds, water and air, as well as the carbon balance of the zone of ground closest to water,” he said.

There is an indication of beaver ponds becoming carbon sinks or sources of the gas and it is estimated that these ponds and meadows could potentially release up to 820,000 tons of carbon annually.

Beaver families tend to change territories every three to five years, leaving the abandoned dam to gradually disintegrate. However, the dam may fill up again because of returnee beavers. These habitats undergo constant changes between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.

“People today obviously have no idea of what pond and stream ecosystems are like in their natural state, since research in the field only began after beavers were taken out of the picture,” says Nummi.

Beavers’ consistent travelling to different locations has caused carbon sinks and sources to mould into landscapes while emitting the gas.

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