EXPLORING BEAVER HABITAT AND DISTRIBUTION WITH GOOGLE EARTH:

EXCEPTIONAL BEAVER HABITAT ON THE SLOPES OF THE PASQUIA HILLS, SASKATCHEWAN

Beavers are interesting to study with Google Earth since their "foot print" is clearly visible on the high resolution and somewhat recognizable on low resolution images. The images below (left) gives the distribution of beaver (Castor Canadensis) in North America. The image on the right give the locations which I have studied with Google Earth, mostly high resolution imagery to locate, measure and classify beaver dams. The longest beaver dam found by me to date is about 600 meters in length. In some cases two dams (each with its own lodge) connect and I have observed lengths of over 900 meters.

The slopes of the Pasquia Hills area in Northern Saskatchewan have some of the most impressive beaver habitat and beaver densities I have seen so far. While 10 -15 beaver dams in a stretch of 1000 meters of streambed are not uncommon, it is is exceptional to find 15-20 beaver dams distributed evenly in a square kilometer of "wetland". Not all dams have lodges with them. As each lodge seems to have an average of about 5.2 beavers, the average population density in some of the wetlands on the slopes surrounding the Pasquia Hills could well be over 50-100 beavers per Km2!!

Beaver dam locations reviewed with Google Earth

Beaver Distribution in North America (from Hinterland Who's Who)

Most of the areas visited are linked to exploring the northern limit for beaver. Most of the sites on this GE image are in the low subarctic or high boreal wetland regions.

Beaver Habitat Pasquia Hills Plateau and Slopes

The Pasquia Hills from a prominent landscape feature in the Boreal Plains Ecoregion. They tower over the surrounding lowlands. The plateau itself is flat plain ( dark blue and green on this NASA World Wind 1990 Pseudo Color image) with typical ground moraine land forms shaped by the moving ice sheet (fluted land forms -see yellow arrows and knoll and kettle topography typical of a dead ice moriane in the northern are. The vegetation and abundant wetlands on the plateau is typical of the mid- boreal ecoregion: Black Sruce -feathermoss and jack Pine fire regeneration on the well drained sites. The wetlands are typical fens and bogs with tamarack and stunted black spruce. The slopes in vivid green reflect the abundance of poplar species and white birch in more disturbed areas. Many prominent beach lines of the former Glacial Lake Agassiz are visible on this image (LA marked with blue arrows). They were formed while the Glacial lake receded. They slow down drainage and enhance potential beaver habitat.

 

Highest Polpulation Density of Beaver in Canada?. Beaver occur in high densities on the slopes. They are marked with a large asterix, showing remarkable concentration areas, and a smaller asterix for the smaller and more steeply sloping areas.

The dotted lines show very high concentrations of beaver dams. In some areas as high as 15-20 beaver dams per km2. The image below one of these areas close to the Cree First Nation community of Pakwaw Lake.

Black Spruce and Tamarack Bogs and Wetlands are typical for this area (BB). Beach lines are prominent parts of the landscape . The roads (as visible on the image) tend to make use of the natural occurrence of these gravel beds. Where the natural drainage breaks through these beds Beaver have taken over the management of water.

Typical beaver density distribution:High : Low slopes; Medium : High slopes; Low density: Plateau

 

High beaver Concentration Area ner Pakwaw Lake: Example of High Density - Low Slope area

This Digital Globe Image shows one of the highest beaver dams concentrations in Canada (in the world?) Over 20 dams and lodges per Km2. The beaver lodges are clearly visible as light dots (7-8 meters in size) in the inundated areas. It is typical to find high densities of dams in streams (10 - 25 dams per linear Km) but is is rather unusual to find them evenly spread out over a wetland like this. This image shows a portion of a large beaver community near Pakwaw Lake (see below)

KMZ link

 

 

Canada's Beaver Capital? The Shoal Lake Band of the Cree Nation is located along Provincial Highway #55. The community is a short drive from Nipawin, and Carrot River Saskatchewan, and is 1479 hectares in size. The population is 631, with an estimated 489 residing on-reserve. What is so remarkable is the large beaver community located nearby. More information....

Beaver dams in slightly sloping wetland streams. The stream on the left has no or very little beaver activity. Beavers have preferred to work with the slower and more consitent surface and ground waterflow in the wetlands to the right of the image. Here the specific sream flows are contriolled by regularly spaced beaver dams with a spacing between them varying from 50-200 meters.

KMZ link

 

Low Resolution Satellite Image Recognition: The beaver dam areas are visible on the low resolution Satellite images as well. The place mark show a high concentration of dams od substantiual size. One perhaps close to 560 meters in length. The bottom right hand corner shows also a series of lake like features which are managed by beavers but reflect in size and distribution the orientation of former glacial lake beach lines and possibly some land slides on the steeper slopes.

KMZ link

  The Pasquia Plateau has significant wetland areas as shown on the left high resolution image. About 90% of this area would be considered a wetland (fen). Beavers have focussed their attention on a small creek with higher trees nearby as food supply. Flow is from the right to the left.

Pasquia Plateau: Typical image of the better drained upland area with Black Spruce as the dominat vegetation type. Dams reflect the direction of the waterflow from top right to bottom left. The widest dam is about 450 meters (bottom marker). The light green coloured wetland, a Tamarack fen, with some areas of balck spruce and bog type features shows little beaver activity.

KMZ link

This Google Earth low resolution image show the numerous Glacial Lake Agassiz beach lines formed while the lake receded since the last ice age. See also Finding Glacial Lake Agassiz with Google Earth

The markers show just a small smaple of the locations of multiple beaver dams

 

 

Canafa Land Inventory: The Land Capability for the Pasquia Hills Sheet was mapped as part of the Canada Land Inventory. This map shows the capability for Waterfowl.

Are there linkages between land capability for beaver and those for waterfowl, ungulates, forestry etc.?

  Canafa Land Inventory: The Land Capability for Forestry.

Canafa Land Inventory: The Land Capability for Agriculture.

  Canafa Land Inventory: The Land Capability for Ungulates.