Central place foraging by beavers (Castor canadensis): a test of foraging predictions and the impact of selective feeding on the growth form of cottonwoods (Populus fremontii)

Mark A. McGinley, Thomas G. Whitham

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Abstract

Several predictions of central place foraging theory were tested. As predicted, beavers foraged more selectively at increasing distance from the central place. With increasing distance from the river's edge, beavers cut fewer branches and deleted small branches from their diet. Large branches were favored at all distances, which differs from patterns observed in previous studies of beaver foraging. This difference, however, is expected and supports Schoener's (1979) predictions which are based on differences between provisioning costs and item size. The selective harvesting of branches predicted by foraging theory affects plant growth form and may influence plant reproductive patterns. High rates of branch removal caused cottonwoods to develop a shrubby architecture. The importance of selective branch choice by beavers on patterns of cottonwood reproduction (i.e., delayed sexual maturity and induced cloning) is discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)558-562
Number of pages5
JournalOecologia
Volume66
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 1985

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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