Beaver (Castor fiber) activity and spatial movement in response to light and weather conditions
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionBartra Cabré, L., Mayer, M., Steyaert, S., & Rosell, F. (2020). Beaver (Castor fiber) activity and spatial movement in response to light and weather conditions. Mammalian Biology, 100(3), 261-271. https://doi.org/10.1007/s42991-020-00029-7
Animal behaviour can affect individual fitness and is influenced by exogenous and endogenous factors. Here, we investigated how light (daylight length and moonlight), weather (precipitation and temperature), age, sex and social status affected activity and movement of a semiaquatic mammal, the Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber), using GPS relocation data from 47 individuals in south-eastern Norway. Independent of daylight length, beavers had a mean daily activity time of 9:42 h and reduced their activity periods when they were older, most likely due to senescence. In line with this, older individuals also spent less time in water and moved shorter distances. Furthermore, beavers reduced their activity periods in drier weather conditions and spent less time on land during brighter nights and drier conditions, indicating a predation risk avoidance strategy. Individuals spent less time in the water during the colder parts of the year and moved shorter distances with decreasing temperature, suggesting thermal constraints. Our study adds to the increasing amount of evidence that animal behaviour is modulated by various endogenous and exogenous factors, and that weather conditions can affect their behaviour. It remains to be tested, however, how climate variability together with hunting and predation pressure affect space use and demography in species such as the Eurasian beaver.