Beavers at Glen Helen Nature Preserve

Beavers at Glen Helen Nature Preserve



Dustin Jacob Holmes


Presentation: 11:00-11:20, Kennedy Union 207



Ecosystem engineers are vital for natural areas, having a large impact on species richness and ecosystem health. An example is the North American beaver (Castor canadensis). Around three years ago a beaver colony began to build a dam in Glen Helen Nature Reserve (Yellow Springs, OH). This has caused significant flooding of the stream that the dam was built on and an opening of the canopy due to the beavers removing many large trees within the area. Our aim was to study what trees the beavers preferred over others and what new species had arrived in the area since the beavers constructed the dam. For this objective, we marked trees that showed signs of beaver activity with numbered tags and recorded their diameter at breast height (DBH) and whether beavers were actively using them or not. Once all of the chewed trees were recorded, we measured and identified the four closest trees without beaver activity. We surveyed 24 trees with beaver activity and 36 undamaged trees. It was found that maples were most preferred by beavers and their preferred size of tree was 18-36 DBH. As for new species, we worked with an expert birder based at Glen Helen who had been collecting data on the preserve’s birds for many years. The new species since the construction of the dam include but are not limited to the green heron (Butorides virescens), prothonotary warbler (Protonotaria citrea), and the mourning warbler (Geothlypis philadelphia). In addition to birds, some new herps have also been found in the pond such as an eastern spiny softshell turtle (Apalone spinifera). We intend to disseminate this data to the preserve staff so that proper conservation and management practices can be implemented to protect the beavers and any new species in the area.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Independent Research

Primary Advisor

Mariela Gantchoff

Primary Advisor's Department



Stander Symposium, College of Arts and Sciences

Institutional Learning Goals

Scholarship; Community

Beavers at Glen Helen Nature Preserve