Seasonal variation in assimilated diets of American beavers

William J. Severud, Jerrold L. Belant, Steve K. Windels, John G. Bruggink

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23 Scopus citations

Abstract

American beavers (Castor canadensis) forage on various aquatic and terrestrial plant species. We used stable isotope analysis of carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) to estimate source contributions of seasonal assimilated beaver diets in Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota, from Apr. 2007 to Nov. 2008. Mean (±95% confidence interval) annual beaver diets were estimated as 45.5 ± 11.4% terrestrial and 55.5% aquatic vegetation (22.0 ± 14.5 emergent and 33.5 ± 7.9 floating leaf). Percentages of floating leaf and terrestrial vegetation were similar between winter and summer assimilated diets, but emergent vegetation increased 45% in summer. Although 15N was 7% greater in summer, 15N and 13C were similar by age class and sex, as were assimilated percentages of emergent, floating leaf or terrestrial vegetation. Variation in total assimilated aquatic vegetation did not affect subadult and adult seasonal changes in body mass, tail thickness or tail area, but kit body condition was negatively related to total assimilated aquatic vegetation. Aquatic vegetation accounted for more assimilated diet during winter than previously reported.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)30-42
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Midland Naturalist
Volume169
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2013

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