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Cateran Ecomuseum

Beavers on the River Ericht

The ultimate ecosystem engineers.

As you travel alongside the River Ericht, you may well see signs of Beavers (see the link to the Scottish Wild Beaver Group site on the right hand side of this page, which will tell you what to look out for).

Beavers were once native to Scotland with the fossil record indicating that the species was living here two million years ago, 1.3–1.5 million years before the first humans. But humans hunted them to extinction as recently as 300-400 years ago, mainly for their valuable fur pelts. After trial re-introductions in the early 2,000’s, in 2019, they became a protected species in Scotland.

Beavers are widely considered to be ‘ecosystem engineers’ which means they have a large impact on habitats and species through the alterations they make to the physical environment. By damming rivers Beavers create ponds and wetlands that attract lots of other wildlife such as frogs, otters, fish and invertebrates. Their felling and coppicing stimulate plant growth and diversity, attracting more insects, which, in turn, brings in more amphibians, birds and small mammals. This makes them a very important part of any ecosystem, a role which is called a ‘keystone species’.


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