U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service




Date of this Version



Wang, G., L.F. McClintic, and J.D. Taylor. 2019. Habitat selection by American beaver at multiple spatial scales. Animal Biotelemetry 7:10. doi: 10.1186/s40317-019-0172-8


Background: Semiaquatic mammals require both aquatic and terrestrial habitats, particularly interfaces between the two habitats. As ecosystem engineers, American beaver (Castor canadensis) consume and fell a great amount of deciduous trees. We tested the prediction that open water and amounts of food resources, including hardwood forests (i.e., deciduous trees as the dominant form of vegetation), herbaceous and woody wetlands, and shrubs, would influence the second-order habitat selection (i.e., placing home ranges on the landscape) by American beaver, whereas the third-order habitat selection of American beaver would be associated with woody wetland and shrub edges. We investigated hierarchical habitat selection by American beaver using location data from very high frequency telemetry. Dirichlet-multinomial models were used to determine the second-order habitat selection at landscape scales. Bayesian spatial resource selection function was used to assess the third-order habitat selection within home ranges.

Results: Second-order habitat selection by American beaver was associated with herbaceous wetland, shrubs, hardwood forest, grassland, and woody wetland more than open water bodies at landscape scales. At the third-order scale, American beaver selected herbaceous wetlands as well as the edges of shrubs and woody wetland within established home ranges.

Conclusions: Spatial distributions of food resources affected both the second- and third-order habitat selection by American beaver. Herbaceous wetlands were more important habitat components than water bodies in the secondand third-order habitat selection by American beaver. Dirichlet-multinomial distribution models for the second-order habitat selection and Bayesian spatial resource selection functions for the third-order habitat selection do not need pseudo-absence locations, providing alternative approaches to the presence–absence methods for habitat selection by animals.