|Beaver dam at Baltimore Woods|
What made the field trip with my students so worthwhile is that we were able to view a beaver meadow -- the remnants of an abandoned beaver dam -- and just downstream from there a newly built beaver pond. It was a perfect lesson in succession, the changes in a landscape over time due to physical or biological interventions. In this case, the beaver is the intervener.
Beavers set up home once they build their dam and ensure a pond environment that will protect them over the winter months and provide them with a place to store their cache of twigs for food. After the dam is built they work on building a home where they can raise their kits, or litter of young. After a few years if the host of trees available for consumption dwindles they move on to a new site downstream, like they have done at Baltimore Woods.
What they leave behind is a legacy of a meadow, and a new generation of plants that would have never appeared if it hadn't been for their work.