Beavers are considered ecosystem engineers by biologists because of their exceptional capacity to alter the environments in which they thrive. They accomplish this by using their enormous teeth to chew through tree trunks and by damming streams to flood wide regions and form beaver ponds.
Beavers construct dams to provide deep water that protects them from predators. They occupy beaver lodges, which are dome-shaped buildings with submerged entrances that are located within ponds. Additionally, they can keep food inside and stay warm throughout the winter.
It is often said that beavers hate running water and that’s why they build dams. Keep reading to find out what the reason might be behind that theory, more about beavers, and the environment that they build for themselves
Why Do Beavers Hate Running Water?
Beavers hate the sound of running water because they think that running water is directly related to dam leakage or that there could be a gap in their dam. If they hear running water, they will often work day and night to find the leak and repair it and they put a lot of thought and effort into repairing them as well.
A beaver’s instinct to construct a dam is very strong; they don’t appear to be able to stand the sound of moving water and must halt it. Beavers kept in captivity will construct pointless dams so they can continue to build. Beavers have been seen in the wild making improvements to and repairs to man-made dams.
Beavers believe that a dam should be silent and that the sound of gushing water denotes structural damage. Beavers are quick to perform any necessary repairs to their dams, and they judge the effectiveness of those repairs based on how still the water will be thereafter.
The sound of the river increases as more water passes through the dam. Beavers don’t necessarily hate water since they thrive on building such good structures in it. They just “hate” running water because they might perceive it as another dam not built.
Beavers use the wall to create a deep water pond; they do not dwell in the dam itself. They build their true home in this pool: a small, safe island or dome ‘lodge,’ which serves as a dry living space and food storage. They work nightly to maintain dams by replacing moved twigs and poles and adding fresh mud.
Since dams must be regularly maintained, these creatures construct dams all across their land, some to regulate the flow of water and some, it appears, just for fun. A beaver family can construct a 35-foot-long dam in a week.
Beavers have an instinct to build, so they are simple to control because of that innate trait. A special, silent outflow conduit that diverts the water out of sight of beavers might be erected in place to dismantle the dams that overflow river banks and cause property damage.
People occasionally construct tiny holes in the dam surrounding the pipe, which the beavers will naturally close up if masking the sound of the pipe is not possible.
What are Beaver’s Dams?
A Beaver’s dam is a makeshift blockage of water made with sticks and wood that is constructed by beavers to form a pond for their protection. Being small animals, they need to be wary of larger predators like coyotes, wolves, bears, and all sorts of carnivores that hunt near rivers.
These dams also act as a place to store their food over the winter, known as a beaver dam or beaver impoundment. Given the way these buildings alter the environment, the ecosystem as a whole benefit from the alteration. This makes beavers keystone species and ecosystem engineers.
The construction of dams can help restore wetlands. Flood control further downstream, biodiversity (by providing habitat for various species), and water purification are also advantages of wetlands, including the breakdown of pollutants like pesticides and the retention of silt by beaver dams.
Beaver dams lessen turbidity, which can be a limiting factor for some aquatic organisms, as well as erosion. Unless a catchment is properly watched, the advantages can be long-term and largely undetectable.
The length of a beaver dam normally ranges from a few meters to over 100 meters (330 ft). The underwater entrance to beaver lodges must be kept clear of ice during the winter by maintaining a water level of at least 0.6 to 0.9 meters (2.0 to 3.0 ft).
Beavers may choose to dwell in lodges and bank burrows rather than constructing dams in lakes, rivers, and major streams with sufficient depth of water. Beavers construct dams if the river is not deep enough to keep them protected from predators and their lodge entrances free of ice.
Why Do Beavers Build Dams?
Beavers build dams to protect themselves from predators like wolves and bears. These dams also help to them to get access to food during winter. They are found in the ponds where they reside in beaver lodges, which are dome-shaped buildings with submerged entrances.
Beaver dams help in preventing soil erosion, restoring wetlands, and water cleansing. The dams also serve as a habitat for numerous wildlife species. Oftentimes, beavers just make dams for the sake of making one since they are always compelled to build.
You see beavers don’t live in the dam itself. Instead, they use the dam as a barrier to create a pond of deep water. This is what they call their home which usually looks like a small protective island.
Beavers are natural builders and they build dams just for the sake of their personal fulfillment but also for their survival too. The sound of flowing water helps beavers locate structural flaws in their dams. To them, an ideal dam is silent because it prevents any water from passing through.
A majority of dams are made of wood pieces, with stones at the base and a sealing layer of mud and vegetation on the downstream side. Because of their modest slope on the upstream side and thicker bottoms, these dams may hold back vast amounts of water because the weight of the water presses against them, keeping them in place.
Due to their engineering expertise, beaver dams can persist for many years. On land, these giant rodents move awkwardly waddling, but in the water, they glide gracefully using their large, webbed back feet as swimming fins and their paddle-shaped tails as rudders.
Given these characteristics, beavers can swim up to five miles (eight kilometers) each hour. They have a set of translucent eyelids that serve as goggles-like protection and can stay underwater for 15 minutes without coming to the surface. Their fur is waterproof and naturally oiled.
What are the Benefits of a Beaver Dam?
Keystone species like wild beavers are valued for their contribution to biodiversity. Numerous other species benefit from their impact on the environment. In addition to keeping streams cool, beaver dams help with carbon storage, flood control, and drought mitigation.
Many frogs, fish, and invertebrates also live in the wetlands they create, and these creatures provide food for birds and bats. Several species, including moose, otters, and weasels, exhibit higher activity in woods where beavers have been introduced in Finland.
As silt and nutrients are filtered in these wetlands, the quality of the water in the streams downriver improves. Finally, by allowing the water to filter into the ground rather than just flow by in the stream, the water that is kept behind the dam helps replenish groundwater levels.
Broad meadows filled with silt and fresh ponds that can decompose pollutants like pesticides are produced as a result of beaver activity. This vital supply is also maintained by water stored beyond the dam, which recharges deep aquifers. This offers protection to the neighborhood during dry seasons.
In times of drought, there is 160 percent more open water available when beavers and their dams are present than when they are not. A majority of people are unaware that beaver ponds have other advantages in addition to the crucial biodiversity issue.
Recharging aquifers, removing pollutants from surface and groundwater, protecting against drought, reducing erosion, producing food for fish and other animals that support biodiversity, including 43% of our endangered species, and creating essential habitats while preserving open space are just a few of the advantages of beaver ponds.
How Long Do Beaver Dams Last?
In recent research by ecologist Carol Johnston, she discovers with aerial imagery that about 46 of the 64 dams and ponds created by beavers from 1868 are still standing, in Michigan.
This further proves that beaver dams are very resilient and sturdy as according to this research, the findings suggest that the dams were standing for 150 years.
Even while creating and maintaining a marsh can take some effort, it seems to be worthwhile. Long recognized for their longevity, the rodents’ ecosystem-shaping houses now have unique proof that individual beaver dams can last for millennia.
Despite their adaptability, human trappers wiped out both of Earth’s beaver species, the North American beaver (Castor canadensis) and Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber), during the 1600s and 1800s.
Even though beavers have been constructing ecosystems in North America and Eurasia for at least the last 7 million years, the demand for their fur drove them to the verge of extinction in just a few centuries.
In the last century, beavers eventually made a comeback thanks to legal protections, and they are now again in great numbers in North America (albeit with only about 10 percent of their historical population).
In conclusion, since beavers are natural builders and tend to build for most of their lives, they are compelled to build something when they hear the sound of running water. The dams protect a lot of biodiversity and have a good effect on nature as well.
When the sound of running water is heard, it just sounds like a job half done or undone to beavers. Being little perfectionists, they dislike the sound of running water since they put a lot of effort into keeping their dams intact.
We hope that this article provided you with the information you need to know about beavers, dams, and how they affect our ecosystems.