May 08, 2023 By Dan Crisler | Omaha World-Herald
In the past 20 years, there has been an explosion in the number of beaver dams in Alaska’s tundra region.
University of Alaska Fairbanks research professor Ken Tape and his colleagues reported that the number of beaver ponds near the town of Kotzebue rose from two in 2002 to 98 in 2019, according to Smithsonian magazine. A nearby peninsula saw the number of beaver dams grow from 94 to 409 between 2010 and 2019.
Why? That’s a question Tape hopes to more definitively answer with the help of robots that will be developed by Brittany Duncan, Justin Bradley and other University of Nebraska-Lincoln faculty members through UNL’s Nebraska Intelligent MoBile Unmanned Systems Lab (NIMBUS). The researchers hope to find those answers over a period of three years thanks to a nearly $1.2 million grant recently awarded by the National Science Foundation.
For now, the working hypotheses are that a warming tundra is making the climate more hospitable to the rodents and that the beaver population is recovering after a couple of centuries of over-trapping.
Read the full article in the Lincoln Journal Star.