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Efforts of beavers have led to the survival of 150-year-old dams in the US, study finds

Despite the threat to their survival, the beavers have still managed to imprint their legacy on their native home in America.

Efforts of beavers have led to the survival of 150-year-old dams in the US, study finds
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Justin Smith

It has not been an easy existence for American Beavers in their homeland as showcased by Sierra Forest Legacy. Prior to the arrival of Europeans in America, Beavers dominated the American landscape. The arrival of Europeans spelled horrible doom for them as they began to be hunted for their pelt. This hunting eventually led to this magnificent creature becoming extinct in its native space and being forced to shift to other areas for its survival.

Image Source: Pexels/ Photo by Alexas Fotos
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Photo by Alexas Fotos

Despite the threat to their survival, the beavers have still managed to imprint their legacy on their native home, showcasing that no matter how much cruelty they are subjected to, their existence on the land can never be diminished, as reported by My Modern Met. These mammals have safeguarded their legacy with the help of the dams that they have been creating and maintaining for the last two centuries.

Lewis Henry Morgan was a railroad magnate, as well as, a politician who garnered fascination for beavers in the 1850s and 1860s. As he began to build railroads in the country he observed many dams that were built by his favorite creature, especially in Michigan's Upper Peninsula area. He decided to record his findings regarding the dams and went on to create a book titled "The American Beaver and His Works."



 

The book was divided into many folios, and each of these folios came with a map in which the dams located in the Ishpeming, Michigan, area were demarcated. The map was created with the collaborative efforts of Morgan and the railroad engineers working for him on the project. The book recording all the dams present in the area was finally published in 1868.

Recently Carol Johnston, working as an Ecologist at South Dakota State University, discovered the one-and-a-half century-old map and began a study to see how many of these dams are still surviving on the landscape. To her surprise, 75% of the dams were still thriving largely because of the work beavers were doing on these structures.

Image Source: Pexels/ Photo by Andrew Patrick
Image Source: Pexels | Photo by Andrew Patrick

The dams have managed to survive for so many years because beavers, generation after generation, created ponds strategically in the same place to aid the maintenance of these structures. This study used aerial footage to determine the existence of the dams and found that though many dams have survived a lot of them had been abandoned.

Johnston credits the resilience showcased by Beavers in tough circumstances for this remarkable achievement. She added, “We've suspected that some beaver features can persist a very long time, but this is a very cool way of quantifying it” in her interview with science.org.

This is similar to the belief Morgan projected in his book at the end when he appreciated the little mammals for the work they put into the creation and maintenance of the dams. He wrote, “These dams have existed in the same places for hundreds and thousands of years [and] have been maintained by a system of continuous repairs.” This system was and still is being maintained and monitored by Beavers even though they have been facing an intense attack by predators. In this way, the creature is ensuring that they leave a mark on their native land from which they are being forced out.

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