Quantifying impacts of reintroduced Beavers

400 years after being extripated from the UK landscape, beavers are finally making a comeback. Across the country, researchers are building up an evidence base for how these ecosystem enginers will interact with our extensively modified landscapes. The University of Exeter has been at the forefront of these efforts in England, with work led by Richard Brazier and Alan Puttock.

Wild beavers reintroduced to the River Otter, credit Jo Snöälv

I’ve contributed in a small way by conducting aerial surveys that enabled us to quantify the extents of beaver-impacts across different reintroduction sites. Exciting findings have been the ability of beaver dam networks to mitigate flood risk by attenuating peak flows, and the huge biodiversity benefits of the mosaic landscapes that beavers help to create

A blast from the past – many of the early surveys of beaver sites were undertaken with custom-built drones like this 3DR Y6. Quite a contrast from the modern consumer drones now available which make similar surveys much easier to conduct.

Find out more about the research into beaver reintroductions in the UK

Puttock, A., H. Graham, A. Cunliffe, M. Elliott and R. Brazier (2017). Eurasian beaver activity increases water storage, attenuates flow and mitigates diffuse pollution from intensively-managed grasslands. Sci. Total Environ. 576:430-443. DOI:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.10.122. Download PDF

Puttock*, A., A. Cunliffe*, K. Anderson and R. Brazier (2015). Monitoring the impact of Eurasian beaver reintroduction on ecosystem structure using aerial photography collected from a multi-rotor drone. J. Unmanned Veh. Syst. 3(3):123-130. DOI:10.1139/juvs-2015-0005. Download PDF