News and Notes

Eager: The Surprising, Secret Life Of Beavers And Why They Matter

The Half-Earth Project Educator Ambassador program provides a platform for teachers to engage each other and their students in the grand ambition of Half-Earth, and to inspire and connect students with the natural world.

Eager: The Surprising, Secret Life Of Beavers And Why They Matter
Ben Goldfarb, winner of the PEN E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award, authored this incredible book on beavers and the naturalists and scientists obsessed with them. Ben’s engaging, deeply researched writing draws us into the world of these powerful ecosystem engineers capable of creating wetlands and restoring landscapes abused by humans.

Starting with this excerpt from Chapter 5, we can begin to appreciate how beavers unleash their power to rejuvenate landscapes, with the help of a few crazy people obsessed with saving these engineers of nature.

For more books about interesting species and the biodiversity around us, check out our recommended summer reading list!

Meet author Ben Goldfarb as he relates some of his adventures with beavers and their fans. Learn how he became so interested in telling this important species’ story, and how to sex this species with internal genitalia, and more.

Phenomenal Image: Beavers Are Ecosystem Engineers
Look at these two photos showing a landscape before and after beavers were re-introduced into this environment. The top photo shows the landscape after 1 year of beaver activity, and the bottom photo after 12 years. The changes are plain to see.

These images, pulled from this paper published in Science of the Total Environment, are a powerful way to spark student curiosity, elicit questions, and engage them in deeper learning. Check out this classroom-ready activity based on these images.

Data Play: What Impact Do Beavers Have On Biodiversity?
These box-and-whisker plots are from the same journal article as the Phenomenal Image above. The plots document the effect of beaver activity on overall species richness in three different areas with different conditions before beavers arrived. When coupled with the exploration of the Phenomenal Image, students can achieve a deeper understanding of the importance of beavers as a keystone species.

Additional Beaver Resources
Beavers are more than just a highly charismatic species. They are essential for the health of our world’s ecosystems. Our featured author, Ben Goldfarb, shares some resources to dive deeper into their world.

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