BEAVER ACTIVITY AND FLORA SURVEY IN CHAIN O'LAKES STATE PARK, NOBLE COUNTY INDIANA
North American beaver are ecosystem and habitat altering mammals with a wide distribution in North America. Beaver are associated with bodies of fresh water while utilizing riparian habitat by foraging on woody and herbaceous, terrestrial and aquatic vegetation, as well as creating lodges, dams, dens, and scent mounds. Chain O’Lakes State Park was chosen as a study area for surveying beaver activity and woody species communities. The aim of the study was to better understand the relationship between beaver, and specifically, the woody vegetation in their foraging and home range. There is a large swath of habitat that beaver can utilize and alter within Chain O’Lakes State Park including the lakes, streams, and forests that attract visitors. The factors that have been found to influence beaver utilization in Chain O’Lakes State Park (and North America at large) are woody species community composition, abundance of heavily preferred woody species, as well as a combination of both an absence of predators and an abundance of aquatic vegetation. Based on the distribution of heavily, occasionally, and rarely preferred woody species across the understory (new individuals) and overstory (mature individuals) stratum an inference can be made that most of the riparian habitat around the lakes will continue to and/or shift into a higher proportion of species that beaver heavily select. A minority of the habitat shall shift away from those species and towards rarely and/or occasionally selected species. I will provide USDA APHIS Wildlife Services that play a wildlife management role in Chain O’Lakes State Park with the survey information detailing how beaver and their structures interact with the ecosystem, hypothesized methods for preserving the woody species that are targeted by beaver foraging within the park, and supplementary information that may aid in maintaining the riparian habitats for the benefit of park’s biodiversity and wildlife persistence while continuing to provide an enriched experience within Northwest Indiana with the potential to inform the greater collection of parks and maintained land at large.
- Master of Science
- Biological Sciences
- Fort Wayne