By ERIC FREEDMAN
Capital News Service
LANSING — The North American beaver has been called “the quintessential ecosystem engineer,” and any doubters can look at the animal’s long-term environmental impact in the Upper Peninsula. Many of its engineering feats are still evident on the landscape after more than 150 years — longer than such other engineering marvels as the Eiffel Tower, the Mackinac Bridge, the Trans-Siberian Railroad and Toronto’s CN Tower have stood. The proof is visible in the continued existence of dozens of Ishpeming-area beaver ponds first mapped in 1868, according to newly published research. “This study shows remarkable consistency in beaver pond placement over the last 150 years, despite some land use changes that altered beaver habitats,” ecologist Carol Johnston wrote in the study. “This constancy is evidence of the beaver’s resilience and a reminder that beaver works have been altering the North American landscape for centuries.”
And in an interview, Johnston said a major lesson from the study is that beavers come back to the same spots on the landscape and reuse them time and time again.