Mountain beavers cache plants in neat piles above the ground near the entrances to their underground burrows, although the purpose of these hay piles remains controversial. We tested the hypothesis that drying plants in piles above ground may slow decay when the plants are stored underground. Predried plants and undried controls were placed in abandoned burrows. Plants that had been predried retained more green and decayed more slowly than undried controls. This experimental test supports the hypothesis that haying may extend the time during which plants are useful to mountain beavers.
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Vol. 67 • No. 4