Do transmitters affect survival and body condition of American beavers Castor canadensis?

Joshua B. Smith, Steve K. Windels, Tiffany Wolf, Robert W. Klaver, Jerrold L. Belant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


One key assumption often inferred with using radio-equipped individuals is that the transmitter has no effect on the metric of interest. To evaluate this assumption, we used a known fate model to assess the effect of transmitter type (i.e. tail-mounted or peritoneal implant) on short-term (one year) survival and a joint live--dead recovery model and results from a mark--recapture study to compare long-term (eight years) survival and body condition of ear-tagged only American beavers Castor canadensis to those equipped with radio transmitters in Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota, USA. Short-term (1-year) survival was not influenced by transmitter type (wi = 0.64). Over the 8-year study period, annual survival was similar between transmitter-equipped beavers (tail-mounted and implant transmitters combined; 0.76; 95% CI = 0.45-0.91) versus ear-tagged only (0.78; 95% CI = 0.45-0.93). Additionally, we found no difference in weight gain (t9 = 0.25, p = 0.80) or tail area (t11 = 1.25, p = 0.24) from spring to summer between the two groups. In contrast, winter weight loss (t22 = - 2.03, p = 0.05) and tail area decrease (t30 = - 3.04, p = 0.01) was greater for transmitterequipped (weight = - 3.09 kg, SE = 0.55; tail area = - 33.71 cm2, SE = 4.80) than ear-tagged only (weight = - 1.80 kg, SE = 0.33; tail area = - 12.38 cm2, SE = 5.13) beavers. Our results generally support the continued use of transmitters on beavers for estimating demographic parameters, although we recommend additional assessments of transmitter effects under different environmental conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)117-123
Number of pages7
JournalWildlife Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Norwegian Institute for Nature Research.


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