Date of Award

Summer 7-1-2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Bendix, Jacob


Beaver, GIS, Habitat, Suitability modeling

Subject Categories

Environmental Sciences | Geographic Information Sciences | Geography | Physical and Environmental Geography | Physical Sciences and Mathematics | Social and Behavioral Sciences


The North American beaver (Castor canadensis) represents a quintessential example of an "ecosystem engineer." Yet the species' landscape-scale impacts on hydrology, geomorphology, and ecosystem ecology are not uniformly distributed through landscapes or time. Understanding beaver lodge site selection and lodge fidelity through time can help to predict where the greatest effects of beaver activity may occur. In this research project, I seek to understand the relationships between beaver habitat suitability, the habitat variables that currently define suitable areas, and lodge occupancy over time. Using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to model habitat suitability, I use hydrologic, vegetative, and physiographic variables to determine the relationship between traditionally conceived suitable factors and their influence on both lodge site suitability and lodge occupancy at my study site in the Huntington Wildlife Forest (HWF) in the Central Adirondacks of New York state. The results confirm beaver habitat preferences for stable water sources, herbaceous wetland vegetation, and shallow topographic slopes. These habitat variables, however, did not influence occupancy at the lodge-scale over time. Furthermore, three different habitat suitability models showed no relationship between site suitability and lodge occupancy, thereby revealing that long-term occupancy is not a significant consideration when beaver select lodge sites. Together, this project demonstrates that factors promoting suitability for beaver settlement do not correspond to suitability for long-term lodge occupancy.


Open Access



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