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Wildlife & Ecosystems

Tracking Beavers Through German Waters

How do beavers shape Germany’s Lower Rhine—and can we keep them from clashing with the people who live there?


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The facts

Why the research is important

Why the research is important

One beaver benefit: their presence is associated with a wider array of plants and animals in river habitats.

Beavers could become victims of their own success as their population booms in the Lower Rhine.

The strong beaver presence in the Lower Rhine tells a success story. After hunters nearly drove them out of existence in the region, beavers are remaking a home for themselves. But they could become victims of their own success. As the population grows and their range expands, they’re bound to run afoul of farmers and watercourse managers. These researchers are seeking to create a picture of the status of the beaver population so they can work toward strong plans for managing inevitable human–beaver conflicts.

You’ll help these researchers meet many of their objectives. They want to know how many beavers are in the District of Cleves and the size of their habitat. They also want to know more about how beavers interact with the environment—for example, what do they eat? Where are they digging canals and burrows? These researchers are also investigating how beavers impact the people in the area.

They’ll talk to locals to see if they’ve noticed damage and also try to get an objective read on how much beavers are actually nibbling on crops, say, or damaging dikes. This information will help develop management plans that work for people as well as beavers.

About the research area

Emmerich, Germany, Europe & Russia

Daily life in the field

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The Scientists

MEET THE LEAD SCIENTIST

William
Megill
Rhine Waal University of Applied Sciences

ABOUT William Megill

Dr. William Megill has researched jellyfish, whales, and otters and has led Earthwatch teams for more than a decade.

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