Dissertation student studies land-use among Eurasian beavers

December 2020

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In 2019, Eurasian beavers were introduced to Essex for the first time in nearly 400 years. Two of the semi-aquatic rodents were encouraged to make their home on the Spains Hall Estate in Finchingfield, within four hectares of woodland. 

Over the following eighteen months, the beavers successfully settled into their new surroundings and welcomed two healthy new kits. They displayed a range of natural behaviours, including building dams, flooding areas, cleaning water and trapping silt. 

Writtle University College BSc (Hons) Animal Management student, William Green, has been studying land use by the Eurasian Beavers as part of his dissertation. William said: "This is an exciting opportunity and I am grateful to Archie Ruggles-Brise and the Spains Hall Estate for giving me the chance to carry out this research."

William's dissertation asked whether beavers' land use patterns and behaviours differ depending on changes in the weather. He also aims to discover whether time spent in different parts of the enclosure varies depended on tree species present.

He said: "To identify the land use patterns displayed by the beavers I have been collecting field sign data from the enclosure weekly for the past three months; field signs include dam building, tree coppicing, feeding, channel building and tracks."

William's findings will be presented within his dissertation, which will be completed in March 2021. 

Archie Ruggles-Brise said: "It is a great pleasure to work with Writtle, and William, on this research. It is important to us to be able to understand as much as possible about the beavers, their habits and their activity. Beavers are gaining in popularity as a nature-based solution to a range of environmental and climate challenges, so the data and analysis contained in this research will greatly benefit our project and other similar initiatives elsewhere."