The Eurasian beaver range expansion reveals uneven future trends and possible conservation issues: an European assessment

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Springer Nature
The Eurasian beaver is a keystone species and landscape-capable ecosystem engineer, which went close to extinction until the 19th century. Recently, thanks to legal protection and reintroduction programs, the species has recolonized much of its past range. However, in some countries this process did not occur. Objectives. Our objective is to model the potential distribution of the Eurasian beaver for current and future conditions, on a continental scale, at river and sub-basin level. We focus on the protected areas of Italy and Portugal for possible reintroductions. Methods. The study area is Europe, with a subset focusing on Italy and Portugal. We produce species distribution models for current and future conditions using climate change scenarios and predicting changes in river flow, including topographic and human disturbance variables. We then deepen suitability-related issues within Italian and Portuguese protected areas. Results. We find that the Eurasian beaver current suitability is comparable to its known distribution, although some potentially-suitable spots occur in Italy (where there are two occurrences), while the Iberian Peninsula and the Balkan countries host scattered suitable spots. Future scenarios predict a general lowering of suitability in Central and Northern Europe. Portuguese protected areas generally host unsuitable territories, while the Italian ones have reported a tangled scenario, depending on the biogeographical sector. Conclusions. Our results may support the large-scale management of the beaver, both for countries already hosting this species and those planning a reintroduction. The framework used may be applied to other species, and for different topics, from biogeography to conservation.
© The Author(s) 2023. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit The Version of Scholarly Record of this Article is published in Biodiversity and Conservation, 2023, available online at: . Keywords: Castor fiber; Europe; protected areas; reintroductions; species distribution modelling; wildlife management.
Serva, D., Biondi, M. & Iannella, M. The Eurasian beaver range expansion reveals uneven future trends and possible conservation issues: an European assessment. Biodivers Conserv 32, 1999–2016 (2023).