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Keywords:

  • Castor fiber;
  • simulation model;
  • GIS;
  • population viability analysis;
  • land cover map

Abstract

An existing spatial population model, developed to assess the reintroduction of the European beaver Castor fiber to Scotland, was applied to predict the likely result of reintroducing beavers to Norfolk, England. A habitat analysis was conducted using the Land Cover Map (classified satellite imagery developed by the Institute of Terrestrial Ecology) to predict the location of areas suitable for beavers. The model was used to simulate population processes within these areas and dispersal between them following a range of reintroduction scenarios. To represent uncertainty regarding the probable behaviour of beavers in Norfolk, the habitat analysis and model were applied using three sets of parameter values (high, medium and low) derived from the literature. It was predicted that Norfolk could support between 18 and 40 beaver families. Using high or medium parameter values, beaver populations were predicted to expand following reintroduction and spread to new areas. Using low parameter values populations were predicted to decrease, risk extinction and not colonize new areas. This analysis is a preliminary investigation into the likely fate of beavers in Norfolk. Checking the estimates of habitat availability in the field would enable greater confidence to be placed in these predictions.