Is new spread of the European beaver in Pannonian basin an evidence of the species recovery?

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Abstract

Abstract: During fieldwork from 6 June to 20 July 2016, the first records of the European beaver (Castor fiber) in south-eastern Slovakia were made. Beavers are mainly nocturnal animals, and as such, they are rarely observed; therefore, our observations were based on searching for beaver presence signs: damaged trees, dams, signs of food consumption (chewed/felled trees) and footprints in the mud. The southern part of the Košická kotlina basin, from the city of Košice down to the state border and the surrounding villages in Hungary, was checked. We found two beaver locations via feeding signs in the vicinity of the Slovakia–Hungary state border, at the villages of Milhosť (Miglécnémeti) and Buzica (Buzita), in Slovakia. According to our calculations, the present total beaver population in Hungary is between 4,000 and 5,000 and 14,600–18,300 beavers with potential support. For Slovakia, we estimated the potential population size to be 7,700–9,600. Our findings in northern Pannonian lowland (Slovakia–Hungary border) are an important evidence of beaver expansion. Although we don’t know the exact origin of investigated population, these new records indicate the possibility of merging the populations of different origin, which could enable gene flow and increase the genetic diversity. This could lead to improved recovery of species and its stabilisation in nature. However, it is necessary to carry out a detailed investigation of the presence of beaver in these regions in future.

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