Identifying Beaver Dams with Remote Sensing

TL;DR: physically getting to beaver ponds and taking high quality data on them in the field is hard. Beaver ponds are muddy, mucky, sensitive ecosystems teeming with wildlife. They’re also enormous. Instead of tromping around the field, I develop methods to find them and collect data from them using satellite and aerial imagery. Satellites = Beaver Locators

Images and mapping created by Dr. Emily Fairfax using Google Earth imagery of the Happy Jack Recreation Area, Wyoming, USA. (2017). CC BY-NC-ND

Beavers and Remote Sensing: The Tools

My research team uses Google Earth imagery, aerial photographs, drone surveys, and Landsat products to locate and map out beaver dams, ponds, and channels around the world. We have located and mapped dams in the USA, Canada, Mexico, the UK, and Patagonia to date. We have personally ground-truthed several field sites, and coordinated with local volunteers and collaborators for ground-truthing others.

Need help mapping beaver dams with remote sensing?

My lab can accept contracts for beaver dam mapping projects! The rate varies based on how large an area you want mapped, the turnaround time, how many students (if any) you want working on it, whether you want me (Dr. Fairfax) mapping dams myself or just doing QA/QC on student-mapped dams.

The typical deliverables on these contracts are KMZ/KML path files outlining all visible beaver dams in a given area, a spreadsheet with an entry for each dam, including its elevation, lat/lon, length, and the date of imagery used. Pond area polygons are possible, but require more advanced student labor and/or more involvement from me, Dr. Fairfax.

If you have a mapping project in mind, email me (emily.fairfax (at) or use the contact form on this website with a brief description of the project.