Dam Builders

The Natural History of Beavers and Their Ponds

Reviewed by Danielle Chartier

February 1, 2017

Michael Runtz is an award-winning university professor, naturalist, nature photographer, and the author of several books on the subject of natural history.

His book Dam Builders is wonderfully illustrated with hundreds of photographs, most of which were taken by the author over almost three decades of studying and enjoying wildlife in their natural settings. While a good number of the photos are of beavers and their structures, many are of other creatures impacted by beavers’ dam building, including mammals, birds, and insects.

I must confess, I have been interested in these animals since I started working at The Beaver magazine (now Canada’s History) over fifteen years ago, and this book provides a fascinating insight into these amazing creatures. Runtz covers everything from their evolution and the variety of species, to their impact on our country (both economically and ecologically), to their distinctive physiological characteristics and behaviours.

Incredibly, the longest beaver dam in the world is visible from space! Located in Alberta’s Wood Buffalo National Park, it spans an astonishing 850 metres.

This book will make a great addition to the library of anyone interested in Canada’s national animal, and it’s an excellent coffee table book for anybody’s collection.

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