MTPR

beavers

Resource conservation student Jared Smith (left) builds a beaver dam analog on Fish Creek in western Montana, along with another undergraduate and Ph.D. ecology student Andrew Lahr (right), Oct. 19, 2019.
Kevin Trevellyan / Montana Public Radio

University of Montana ecologists are researching human-made beaver dams as a potential habitat restoration tool. Early case studies show the dams could dull the impacts of climate change seen in rivers and streams. The U.S. Forest Service is looking to use the simple structures on new sites in the state, but first, officials want to better understand the science behind simulated rodent engineering.

“Eager" is the powerful story of how nature’s most ingenious architects shaped our world, and how they can help save it—if we let them. Ben Goldfarb’s captivating book reveals how beavers transformed our landscapes, and how modern-day “Beaver Believers”—including scientists, ranchers, and passionate citizens—are recruiting these ecosystem engineers to help us fight our most pressing environmental problems. The Washington Post calls it, “A masterpiece of a treatise on the natural world” and The Boston Globe calls it, “The best sort of environmental journalism.”

A beaver swims through a forest pond.
Josh Burnham (CC-BY-2.0)

In the great stands of old cottonwood trees along prairie rivers, chemical skirmishes are taking place between beavers, cottonwoods, and a certain species of beetle. Beavers gnaw on the trees; the trees fight back with toxic compounds; and the beetles move in to feast on the toxins. But in this apparent conflict, all three species benefit.