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Environmental classification for Castor canadensis Kuhl, 1820, Rodentia habitat according to catchment patterns in a sector of Tierra del Fuego Clasificacion ambiental para habitat de Castor canadensis Kuhl 1820, Rodentia, de acuerdo a caracteristicas de cuencas en un sector de Tierra del Fuego

, : Environmental classification for Castor canadensis Kuhl, 1820, Rodentia habitat according to catchment patterns in a sector of Tierra del Fuego Clasificacion ambiental para habitat de Castor canadensis Kuhl 1820, Rodentia, de acuerdo a caracteristicas de cuencas en un sector de Tierra del Fuego. Anales del Instituto de la Patagonia Serie Ciencias Naturales, 29: 75-93

The present research was developed assessing different habitat selection abilities by the alien rodent Castor canadensis (Kuhl 1820) in forest ecosystems of Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego. Habitat types with different beaver theoretical carrying capacities were classified based on topography and vegetacional patterns of surveyed sites. Aerial photography of Tierra del Fuego sector were used (1:30.000) and main watercourses around Vicuna (54deg. 08' S - 68deg. 47' W), Rio Bueno (53deg. 45'S - 69deg. 48' W) and Puerto Arturo (54deg. 04' S - 70deg. 03' W), were surveyed on foot during November 1999 and 2000. Eighty one sites with beaver signs were covered, registering a series of physical and vegetacional parameters. Four main habitat types were selected, based on slope and forest vegetation along strands. Additionally, presence of active colonies in two sites without river courses and two with only one strand in use were registered. Density of active colonies were estimated for the four main habitat types. Preferred habitat were water courses with lower slopes and forest vegetation on both strands (5.4 active colonies/km). Steppe/peat - forest edges held densities of 2.5 active colonies/km on the average. Analysis of Principal Components, Variance and Correlation showed association of slopes and strand vegetation, width of water course and specific forest/vegetation composition. Forest regrowth was absent in steppe habitat as well as peat with nearby forest patches. It was medium and abundant in the other habitat, for active as well as abandoned sites. A map prepared based on aerial photography projecting data from the National Native Forest Survey separates the Southwestern sector of Tierra del Fuego in the four main habitat types with possible densities to be estimated. These were based on classification obtained with field data, water catchments geomorphology and order of water courses. Results projected 1.626,5 km of rivers with theoretical 23.593 ha of habitat affected by beavers. According to this assessment about 4.000 (37%) ha corresponded to habitat with no regeneration, specially of Lenga forest.

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