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Old 05-24-2021, 09:38 AM   #22
montcalm's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 1,979
Let's not conflate "here before humans", with "here before Europeans".

I don't know the archeological history of the beaver, but I'd guess they were here before humans. Not the period of time I'm interested in though...

We know humans showed up in this neck of the woods around 8000 years ago. Landscapes and species populations may have been much different then as well. Whatever.

Point being, humans existed with the beavers and "minimal" trapping i.e. pre-European levels of trapping. Both populations were a lot more dispersed than they are now. We have *some* evidence that fish populations were more widespread and abundant than they are now, or were in recent history.

I don't doubt your hypothesis that beavers have some impact on water quality - but we're making a lot of jumps around here going from Giardia to impact of trout populations.

I think it's clearly been shown though, that humans have the biggest impact on degrading water quality, and negatively impacting fish populations. What's changed since European settlement? Lots of humans - higher population densities. Lots of habitat loss - forcing beavers populations into smaller areas. Eradication of apex predators such as wolf and large cats.

If these mechanisms were in place, would the beaver's impact be as detrimental as it is today? That's all I'm questioning.

Also then extending that, will mechanisms i.e. the coyote population increase help to balance these smaller, island ecosystems with the beaver we see now and bring back fish populations*?

*Just anecdotally, "boots on the ground" my point of reference: I saw both beaver and coyote populations go from zero to very significant in about 30 years in parts of south western NY.
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