Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time: North American Beavers in Tierra del Fuego (2014-13)

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Jan 10, 2015
Author: 
Kathleen Guillozet and Christopher B. Anderson

North American beaver (Castor canadensis) were introduced by the Argentine government into southern Patagonia’s Tierra del Fuego Archipelago in 1946. This effort was part of a broader initiative to establish exotic furbearers with potential economic value, including American mink (Neovison vison) and muskrats (Ondatra zibethica). No significant pelt trade was ever developed, but the beavers thrived, and in the 1960’s they crossed the Beagle Channel into the Chilean portion of the archipelago. By the mid- 1990s, beaver had also crossed the Strait of Magellan, beginning a northward migration on mainland Chile that continues today, threatening the entire temperate forests of southern South America that are shared between Argentina and Chile. This case uses a socio-ecological systems approach to engage students in contemporary concepts and theories relevant to ecological restoration, invasive species ecology and ecosystem services.

Estimated time frame: 
Multi-week
SES learning goals: 
  • Understand the structure and behavior of socio-environmental systems
  • Consider the importance of scale and context in addressing socio-environmental problems
  • Co-develop research questions and conceptual models in inter- or trans-disciplinary teams
  • Find, analyze, and synthesize existing data, concepts, or methods
Has this been tested in the class room: 
No
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