Assessment of the effect of beaver foraging activities on the alteration of waterside forests in northern and middle taiga of Russian Karelia

  • Fyodor Fyodorov Institute of Biology of the Karelian Research Centre of the Russian Academy of Sciences


The territory of the Republic of Karelia is latitudinally elongated and traversing two boreal subzones such as the northern and middle taiga. Pine and spruce stands predominate in the northern taiga, while forests in middle taiga are more diverse, represented by secondary stands, and often dominated by deciduous species. These factors define the foraging behaviour of beavers and their role in alteration of riparian forests. Dispersing in the northern taiga, beavers tend to choose waterside areas with a higher proportion of deciduous species. However, such habitats occupy less than 1% of the forested area in this subzone, so the overall effect of beaver foraging on forest stands would be minor. On the other hand, inside beaver colonies, stand alteration is far more pronounced than changes in colonies in the middle taiga, and the effects are the following: 1) waterside forests in the northern taiga lose 2.5 times more deciduous trees than those in the middle taiga (61.4 and 26.3 %, respectively); 2) in waterside stands, aspen is totally removed, the share of conifers is doubled, and the share of birch is reduced (in the middle taiga, the share of birch around beaver colonies slightly increases, and the share of aspen is reduced by a factor of 1.5); 3) beavers in the north of Karelia consume thick birch trees more often than in the south of the region; 4) the regeneration capacity of damaged trees in the north is lower than in the south of Karelia. Key words: beavers, foraging activities, waterside forests, northern and middle taiga, tree stands
Wildlife management