Evolution of woodcutting behaviour in Early Pliocene beaver driven by consumption of woody plants

  title={Evolution of woodcutting behaviour in Early Pliocene beaver driven by consumption of woody plants},
  author={Tessa Plint and Fred J. Longstaffe and Ashley P. Ballantyne and Alice M. Telka and Natalia Rybczynski},
  journal={Scientific Reports},
Modern beavers (Castor) are prolific ecosystem engineers and dramatically alter the landscape through tree harvesting and dam building. Little is known, however, about the evolutionary drivers of their woodcutting behaviour. Here we investigate if early woodcutting behaviour in Castoridae was driven by nutritional needs. We measured stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes (δ13C and δ15N) of coeval subfossil plants and beaver collagen (Dipoides sp.) from the Early Pliocene, High Arctic Beaver Pond… 

Tables from this paper

C3 plant isotopic variability in a boreal mixed woodland: implications for bison and other herbivores
This study examines the stable carbon and nitrogen isotope compositions of terrestrial C3 plants in Elk Island National Park, Alberta, Canada, with a focus on plants consumed by grazers, and reiterates the importance of accessing ecosystem-specific isotopic baselines for addressing research questions in archaeology, paleontology, and ecology.
The paleoecology of the Late Miocene mammals from the Optima Local Fauna of Oklahoma, USA
The Optima Local Fauna represents an important glimpse into the ecological transition between savannah and grassland during the late Miocene (Hemphillian) of what is now the southcentral Great Plains
Neogene and early Pleistocene flora from Alaska and Arctic/Subarctic Canada: New data, intercontinental comparisons and correlations
A new correlation scheme primarily concerning macroand meso-floral remains of bryophytes and vascular plants from 26 Neogene sites and over 50 florules in Alaska and northern Canada is presented.


Woodcutting behavior in beavers (Castoridae, Rodentia): estimating ecological performance in a modern and a fossil taxon
Abstract An early Pliocene fossil locality in the Canadian High Arctic preserves the remains of the extinct beaver Dipoides sp. (Castoridae, Rodentia) in association with an assemblage of fossil
Castorid Phylogenetics: Implications for the Evolution of Swimming and Tree-Exploitation in Beavers
  • N. Rybczynski
  • Environmental Science
    Journal of Mammalian Evolution
  • 2006
Results support the hypothesis that tree-exploitation evolved at high latitudes, possibly influenced by the development of hard winters, and suggest that both behaviors appeared within a single castorid lineage by the beginning of the Miocene.
Ecological impact of beavers Castor fiber and Castor canadensis and their ability to modify ecosystems
It is suggested that beavers can create important management opportunities in the Holarctic, and this review will help land man- agers determine the likely outcome of beaver activity.
Giant beaver palaeoecology inferred from stable isotopes
Six new radiocarbon dates help establish the chronology of the northward dispersal of the giant beaver in Beringia, indicating a correlation with ice sheet retreat.
Chapter 4. The Antiquity of Rhizomys and Independent Acquisition of Fossorial Traits in Subterranean Muroids
Morphological and fossil data suggest that myospalacines are more closely related to rhizomyines than to spalacine, and that known Early Miocene rhizomys are close to the stem zokor morphotype, but molecular data is not yet robust enough to clarify interrelationships of the groups.
The Seasonal Food Regime of Arctic Beavers
The northern beaver has adapted to low energy availability characteristic of winter by storing food in the autumn and again in the spring, and by intrinsically lowering food intake during the winter.
A basal ursine bear (Protarctos abstrusus) from the Pliocene High Arctic reveals Eurasian affinities and a diet rich in fermentable sugars
A tendency toward a sugar-rich diet appears to have arisen early in Ursinae, and may have played a role in allowing ursine lineages to occupy cold habitats.
Locomotory adaptations in entoptychine gophers (Rodentia: Geomyidae) and the mosaic evolution of fossoriality
A quantitative study of the cranial and postcranial remains of eight different species of entoptychine gophers as well as many contemporary rodent species finds a range of burrowing capabilities within EntoptyChinae, including semifossorial scratch‐digging animals and fossorial taxa with cranial adaptations to burrowing.
Stable carbon isotope discrimination measurements in Sphagnum and other bryophytes: physiological and ecological implications
Nine Sphagnum species and associated vascular plants and peat from a wet heath in East Devon and a North Carolina lake show broadly similar δ13C values, while S. trinitense shows significant between-site and within-site variation in δ 13C in relation to height above water level.
Floral Dissimilarity and the Influence of Climate in the Pliocene High Arctic: Biotic and Abiotic Influences on Five Sites on the Canadian Arctic Archipelago
A recurring goal in ecological and paleoclimatic studies is to either forecast how ecosystems will respond to future climate or hindcast climate from past ecosystem assemblages. The Pliocene is a