Rachel Crowhurst, Clinton Epps, Tyler Creech
Latin name: Castor canadensis
During the 17th and 18th centuries, the American beaver was extirpated throughout much of its range by fur-trappers. Programs to reintroduce this large rodent (including in Oregon) were largely successful, but little is known about how these animals naturally move about the landscape. In collaboration with researchers from the USDA and the OSU Department of Forestry, we conducted a landscape genetic analysis of beavers along the Oregon coast. We found weak correlations between genetic structure and the landscape variables tested, suggesting that dispersal rates are high or the extensive genetic mixing caused by translocations has decoupled the natural relationships between gene flow and landscape in these populations. Genetic variation was structured to some degree by watershed, but we found no evidence of strong dispersal barriers, suggesting that beavers in this landscape can disperse widely.