Anyone know why beavers seem to be missing from most of Florida? There is a lot of water there and they can be found pretty far south in Texas and even in Mexico. Were they never there? Were they extirpated and haven’t made it back? Are there too many gators?
Welcome to the forum! I honestly have no idea, but have been curious about that too. Hopefully someone will have an explanation or opinion on it.
Good question. Beavers do occur in the FL panhandle but are absent apparently throughout rest of state. It could be that the vegetation community particularly along streams and rivers in most of the state cannot support beaver (some limitation on diet, dam building). But I’m not familiar enough with FL riparian vegetation to say what might be missing. I kind of like the alligator hypothesis, although the two species do occur elsewhere along the Gulf Coast.
It’s also possible that a pathogen or parasite that is able to persist in the warmer areas of most of FL – and that beavers are vulnerable to – could be a factor. Pure speculation.
Here’s a not-so-recent reference you could look for. I browsed it online via JSTOR and the suggestion is that beaver “formerly ranged over a considerable part of Florida” based in part on archaeological remains. Some populations present at time of this article were reintroduced.
Layne, James N., and Bette S. Johns. “PRESENT STATUS OF THE BEAVER IN FLORIDA.” Quarterly Journal of the Florida Academy of Sciences , vol. 28, no. 2, 1965, pp. 212–220.
I think I found the answer. Beavers existed throughout most of Florida, but weren’t found in the everglades (South of Lake Okeechobee, where the temperate flora/fauna meets with the tropical flora/fauna). This pdf shows their historic range if you scroll down far enough.
I suspect like many parts of the beaver’s historical range, past over-trapping starting in the 1800s has eliminated the species from what should be good habitat. For example, there are still streams in the Southwest U.S. that lack beavers but that had them historically. Releasing beavers into new and formerly occupied areas is often not politically feasible, so where they are absent today is as much due to past trapping pressure as modern human concerns…
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