Russian olive and tamarisk are introduced woody plants invading western North American riparian communities. Beavers can play an important role in structuring these communities by removing the dominant cottonwood trees. Our study explored the way in which beavers interact with cottonwood, Russian olive, and tamarisk along 4 rivers on the Great Plains of eastern Montana. We sampled cottonwood stands that supported populations of 1 or both exotic species, recording beaver damage and density in addition to size and age of cottonwood, Russian olive, and tamarisk. In stands where beaver had been present, they felled an average of 80% of cottonwood trees while rarely using Russian olive or tamarisk. Beaver foraging was apparent in nearly 90% of stands within 50 m of the river channel but only 21% of stands farther away, creating a sunny corridor along the river channel that may increase the invasive potential of Russian olive and tamarisk. Growth rates of both Russian olive and tamarisk were substantially higher where beavers had reduced the cottonwood canopy cover. Managers wishing to reintroduce beavers should consider the potential effect on invasive exotic plants.
Lesica, Peter and Miles, Scott
"Beavers indirectly enhance the growth of Russian olive and tamarisk along eastern Montana rivers,"
Western North American Naturalist: Vol. 64
, Article 12.
Available at: http://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/wnan/vol64/iss1/12