Date of this Version
Current Zoology, 2017, 63(6), 703–710 doi: 10.1093/cz/zox059.
Animal habitat selection, among other ecological phenomena, is spatially scale dependent. Habitat selection by American beavers Castor canadensis (hereafter, beaver) has been studied at singular spatial scales, but to date no research addresses multi-scale selection. Our objectives were to determine if beaver habitat selection was specialized to semiaquatic habitats and if variables explaining habitat selection are consistent between landscape and fine spatial scales. We built maximum entropy (MaxEnt) models to relate landscape-scale presence-only data to landscape variables, and used generalized linearmixed models to evaluate fine spatial scale habitat selection using global positioning system (GPS) relocation data. Explanatory variables between the landscape and fine spatial scale were compared for consistency. Our findings suggested that beaver habitat selection at coarse (study area) and fine (within home range) scales was congruent, and was influenced by increasing amounts of woody wetland edge density and shrub edge density, and decreasing amounts of open water edge density. Habitat suitability at the landscape scale also increased with decreasing amounts of grass frequency. As territorial, central-place foragers, beavers likely trade-off open water edge density (i.e., smaller non-forested wetlands or lodges closer to banks) for defense and shorter distances to forage and obtain construction material. Woody plants along edges and expanses of open water for predator avoidance may limit beaver fitness and subsequently determine beaver habitat selection.