Biological Invasions at the Uttermost Ends of the Earth: The Case of North American Beavers in Southern Patagonia
August 13, 2022 @ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
Saturday, August 13, 2022
In 1946, the Argentine government brought 20 beavers from Canada to Tierra del Fuego to ‘enrich’ the local fauna. The initiative was part of a broader way of thinking at the time that sought to ‘develop’ the country, which included importing species from North America and Europe that were perceived to have more value. This effort to create a fur industry failed, and since then the biological invasion caused by beavers in both Argentine and Chilean portions of southern Patagonia has created the largest alteration to sub-Antarctic forests since the retreat of the last ice age. Furthermore, the invasive beaver has evidenced the fact that biological invasions have both ecological and social causes and consequences. Therefore, they must be addressed as part of a ‘social-ecological system.’ Besides the beaver, southern Patagonia hosts an array of other invasive exotic species, making this an ideal natural laboratory to better understand the human dimensions of conservation, even in what are ostensibly considered pristine wilderness areas.
Dr. Christopher B. Anderson has worked and lived in southern Patagonia since 2000. He is currently a Research Scientist in the Argentine National Scientific and Technical Research Council and an Associate Professor at the National University of Tierra del Fuego, both in Ushuaia, Argentina. Previously, he worked for 12 years in the Chilean portion of Patagonia, where he was part of the creation of the UNESCO Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve. He is a specialist on biological invasions, but his work focuses more broadly on applying inclusive strategies to research, education and conservation that allow the incorporation of multiple disciplines and stakeholders.