Beavers Moving Into Arctic Accelerating Effects Of Climate Change
Due to the rapidly warming transformation of the Arctic, beavers are heading northwards into an area which was previously inhospitable territory for these creatures.
As the Arctic continues to heat up due to the climate crisis, beavers are set to sweep into the furthest northern extremities.
“We didn’t know what we would find and ended up being very surprised,” said Ken Tape, an ecologist at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, who co-authored the new research.
“There are areas of Alaska that had no evidence of beavers 50 years ago that are now apparently saturated with them,” he said, adding: “It’s just a matter of time before they head even further north. When you consider this is likely happening across the rest of the Arctic in Canada and Russia, that gives you an idea of the scope of this change.”
The Arctic has heated up three times quicker than the global average in recent years.
“The true impact of the spread of beavers into the Arctic on the environment and the Indigenous communities who live there is not yet fully known,” said Helen Wheeler, a researcher at Anglia Ruskin University. “However, we do know that people are concerned about the impact beaver dams are having on water quality, the numbers of fish downstream of the dams, and access for their boats.”
Beavers could be a cause for the acceleration of climate change due to the pools that are accumulated when beavers dam rivers resulting in localized unfrozen “hotpots” that cause thawing of permafrost (the frozen ground of the Arctic that holds vast amounts of carbon. Scientists have warned that a widespread thawing of permafrost could cause global heating to become out of control.
“Those ponds absorb heat better, they change the hydrology of the area and the permafrost responds to that,” said Tape. “Beavers are coming in from the outside, imposing themselves on the ecosystem and disrupting it.
“It’s accelerating the effects of climate change. When you realize what’s happened in western Alaska is likely to happen to northern Alaska, it does give you pause.”
Holly Moon, Content Manager