Beavers help Canadian amphibians survive

This video is called Dam Fun Facts About Beavers.

From Science Daily:

Beavers Helping Frogs And Toads Survive

The humble beaver, besides claiming a spot of honour on the Canadian nickel, is also helping fellow species survive.

Though considered a pest because of the culvert-clogging dams it builds on streams, the beaver is an ally in conserving valuable wetland habitat for declining amphibian populations, a University of Alberta study shows.

The study, conducted in the boreal forests of west-central Alberta, showed that frog and toad choruses are only present on streams where beaver dams are present.

While surveying the calls of male frogs and toads engaged in acoustic displays for females, researchers recorded approximately 5,000 boreal chorus frogs, wood frogs and western toads at 54 beaver ponds over a two-year period.

Pitfall traps on beaver ponds captured 5.7 times more newly metamorphosed wood frogs, 29 times more western toads and 24 times more boreal chorus frogs than on nearby free-flowing streams.

Toads need cougars: here.

It seems that many Canadians have never seen beavers, as they, like many mammals, are pretty good at hiding.

When I was in Canada, I was lucky enough to see a beaver swim; and later a muskrat.

23 thoughts on “Beavers help Canadian amphibians survive

  1. VIRGINIA, Minn. Feb 16, 2007 (AP)— A furry, uninvited guest had manly men at an Iron Range tire shop shrieking and hopping on desks. “It was pretty humorous,” said conservation officer Dan Starr, who filed a report on the critter’s break-in. “Here were these big, burly outdoors guys running around screaming.” Taconite Tire employees arrived at work on Monday to find what they thought was a giant rat inside the store.

    “I was the first one into work that morning and the first one out,” said Shannon Bergman, an off-road tire salesman. “I walked in, and in the waiting area I saw this big rat, and I took off.”

    Mayhem ensued.

    After scampering out the front door, Bergman called a buddy and told him to bring a rifle to dispatch the critter.

    On edge, employees stalked the “rat,” entering the office where it was hold up.

    “We’re looking around in the office and a box falls, and I must have jumped a foot,” said Bob Dethloff, a brawny alignment specialist and stock car racer. “I thought it was going to attack me from behind.”

    Dethloff’s son, Ryan, a mechanic at the shop, was armed with a broomstick.

    All of a sudden, he spotted the “rat.”

    “Ryan comes out of the office screaming, and he says, ‘It’s huge!'” Bergman said. “It was the size of a cat.”

    “I guess he jumped on top of a desk and screamed like a girl who had seen a mouse,” Starr said of Ryan Dethloff.

    In the end, an employee shot and killed what turned out to be a muskrat.

    Information from: Duluth News Tribune,

    Copyright 2007 The Associated Press.


  2. Citizen science project shows Alaska wood frogs are spreading

    by Tim Mowry /

    May 11, 2011

    FAIRBANKS — The first time Marian Snively heard the “errr-ruk-ruk” croaking of a wood frog, she made the same mistake a lot of people make.

    “When I first heard it I said, ‘That’s a duck,’” recalled Snively.

    The croaking of wood frogs is often mistaken for the quacking of ducks, especially since a lot of Alaskans don’t know frogs exist in the Interior and Southcentral.

    “I always ask before a presentation if there is anyone here who didn’t know that we had frogs in Alaska, and there are always hands that go up,” said Snively, a wildlife biologist who works in the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s Wildlife Diversity Program.

    There are indeed frogs in Alaska, and the department is trying to get a handle on whether that number is increasing or decreasing, and what their range is. Thanks to a hundreds of frog-friendly Alaskans, biologists know more about wood frogs in Alaska than ever before.

    For the past 10 years, volunteers across the state have been keeping their ears open each spring for the sound of croaking wood frogs as part of a citizen science project aimed at gathering more information about America’s farthest north amphibian, said Snively.

    What they’ve discovered, she said, is that the small, brownish frogs — they fit in the palm of your hand — with smooth skin and dark spots are expanding their range. They have been confirmed as far north as Anaktuvuk Pass, about 450 miles north of Fairbanks in the Brooks Range; as far west as the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta; and as far south as the Alaska Peninsula.

    “We’ve had observations in areas we didn’t know there were frogs,” David Tessler, a fellow biologist involved with the frog monitoring program, said. “It’s really useful in understanding habitat distributions of wood frogs.”

    There have even been reports of wood frogs on the North Slope, though they have yet to be verified.

    “That would be quite a substantial range expansion,” Tessler said.

    They typically emerge from hibernation in late April or early May. This year, the first wood frogs were heard calling in Anchorage on May 1 and in Fairbanks on May 5.

    The frogs congregate briefly in early spring to breed in shallow bodies of permanent or temporary water. Virtually anywhere that has standing water for at least part of the summer qualifies as potential wood frog habitat — lakes, ponds, bogs, marshes, temporary pools, roadside ditches.

    Male frogs are the ones that can be heard calling as they attempt to attract females for the breeding season.

    The wood frog monitoring program began in 2002 and has grown to include hundreds of participants. Volunteers include people who travel a circuit with up to 10 different stations to someone who sees one wood frog one time and calls it in, Snively said.

    “In Alaska we don’t have a baseline for how many wood frogs there are, and this is helping get us a baseline to not only where they’re found but also an index to how many there may be,” Snively said. “Without a baseline we don’t know if the populations are increasing or decreasing.”

    Monitoring wood frog populations in Alaska is important because amphibians in general and wood frogs in particular are good biological indicators of environmental health and changing climate conditions, Tessler said. Frog populations are declining worldwide. About one-third of the world’s frog species are endangered, he said.

    “We don’t know what’s happening with frogs here,” he said.

    For example, a disease called chytrid fungus that has infected frogs worldwide has been detected in wood frogs in Alaska and there have been high rates of abnormalities, such as missing or deformed limbs, seen in wood frogs in some parts of the state. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is studying what the causes of those abnormalities are, Tessler said.

    Wetlands are vanishing in Alaska, and monitoring the presence of a wetland dependent species like wood frogs helps biologists understand what’s happening with wetlands from year to year, he said.

    “It’s a specific kind of project that lends itself well to citizen science,” Tessler said of the wood frog monitoring program. “We’re never going to get money to study wood frogs, but this way we have a lot of eyeballs on the ground and we’re getting good information from untrained people across a huge expanse of the state.”

    Contact outdoors editor Tim Mowry at 459-7587.

    Hop on

    It’s not too late to participate in the state’s wood frog monitoring program.

    The first frogs started calling in Fairbanks on May 5 and will continue croaking for the next two to three weeks in hopes of attracting mates.

    You don’t have to be a biologist to listen for wood frogs, said David Tessler, a biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s Wildlife Diversity Program.

    “It doesn’t take a whole lot of effort or training,” Tessler said. “The information we need is really easy and simple.”

    Anyone interested in joining the wood frog watch can go to for instructions and to download a data form.

    “If people want to do wood frog surveys, that’s a good place to start,” project coordinator Marian Snively said.

    Frog watchers can choose to survey one location for one night, one location for several nights, or a roadside route with up to 10 locations for several nights through the calling season.

    “We’re pretty much interested in any participation folks are willing to give us,” Tessler said.


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