The North American beaver is considered a keystone species because its behaviour leads to profound changes in the wetland systems within forested landscapes. Such changes influence species composition and their interactions. However, in some cases, beavers are considered as an important source of disturbance and conflict with anthropogenic activities. In this paper, we reviewed regional studies using geomorphology, food availability and anthropogenic infrastructure on spatial modelling of beaver habitat. Even though all studies used different sets of variables and methodologies, important factors affecting beaver occurrence or abundance are mainly stream gradient, watershed size and hardwood cover that is adjacent to the streams. However, the identification of key habitat indicators often varies between studies depending upon the object being modelled (colonies vs. dams), the geomorphological characteristics of the region, and the scale of the study area. Recent developments in geomatics and improved data quality now allow spatial modelling of beaver habitat across larger areas, and make models using at least stream gradient and forest cover types more accessible to managers. Such large-scale predictive beaver habitat models could have valuable applications for the prevention of infrastructure damage and related costs, and for managing wildlife species that rely upon beaver ponds.
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Vol. 25 • No. 1