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Can beavers contribute to evolution by transforming the tundra?

That thing the beaver is sitting on is its paddle tail.

Anyone familiar with beavers will know that the big busy rodents can transform roads into ponds. They are making a comeback in Alaska:

Beavers may be infiltrating the region for the first time in recent history as climate change makes conditions more hospitable, says Ken Tape, an ecologist at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Or maybe the expansion is a rebound after trapping reduced beaver numbers to imperceptible levels in the early 1900s, he says. Nobody knows for sure.

And the full range of changes the rodents are generating in their new Arctic ecosystems hasn’t been studied in detail. But from what Tape and a few other researchers can tell so far, the effects could be profound, and most of them will probably be beneficial for other species.Sid Perkins, “Beavers are engineering a new Alaskan tundra” at Science News

The main thing beavers will do is add to the biodiversity by creating ponds as habitat for fish, amphibians, and waterfowl and also, one suspects, producing kits for wolves and coyotes to stalk.

No surprise if some of the changes beavers introduce get classified as evolution in the sense that various lifeforms may produce offspring adapted to the new conditions that then get classified as new “species.” No one is likely to wait around to see if the changes are easily reversible potentials in the whole group, manifested in some.

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See also: Biogeography: Life before ecology, when Canadian beavers overran Tierra del Fuego

Researcher: Human impact is reshaping the tree of life

Devolution: African elephants survive by shedding their tusks (no interest to poachers) The trait (no tusks or else have tiny tusks) was there all along but became an asset when the main foe was attracted to, rather than deterred by, tusks. The double whammy may have meant even more rapid change.

John Sanford on claims about brand new nylonase genes


Beavers illustrate complex specified information, they don’t author it.

Dams (both beaver & human) are examples of intelligent design guiding evolution aren’t they? Haven’t posted in a bit - are the “unguided evolution” proponents still around?? Just kidding, haven’t posted but read UD daily:) ppolish
"Tundra" is NATURALLY treeless plains with as many ponds and swamps as you like, when the whole mess isn't frozen solid. Tundra is treeless because it's too darn COLD for the trees to grow. Swampy northern FOREST is "taiga", whose trees are overwhelmingly conifers. A whole lot of southern Canada and a bunch of Siberia are taiga. Taiga can shift to normal temperate forest if you install some actual DRAINAGE, not just local swamps and ponds. One of the problems for both Siberia and Northern Canada is that the rivers tend to drain NORTH, which means that the ice on the headwaters melts before the ice at the MOUTH. So the river does NOT drain anything until full Summer. Instead, the upstream (and Southern) areas get FLOODED with meltwater, producing swamps. Installing more swamps in the swamp don't get you much. But, hey, wasting 10 or 20 years PROVING beavers don't work has got to be worth a couple million in grant money to SOMEBODY. vmahuna

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