Academic journal article The American Midland Naturalist

Winter Home-Range Characteristics of American Marten (Martes Americana) in Northern Wisconsin

Academic journal article The American Midland Naturalist

Winter Home-Range Characteristics of American Marten (Martes Americana) in Northern Wisconsin

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT.-

We estimated home-range size for American marten (Martes americana) in northern Wisconsin during the winter months of 2001-2004, and compared the proportion of cover-type selection categories (highly used, neutral and avoided) among home-ranges (95% fixed-kernel), core areas (50% fixed-kernel) and the study area. Average winter homerange size was 3.29 km^sup 2^ with home-ranges of males (n = 8, mean = 4.25 km^sup 2^) significantly larger than females (n = 5, mean = 2.32 km^sup 2^). Composition of cover-type selection categories in home-ranges differed significantly from what was available in the study area (X^sup 2^ = 6.9145, df = 2, P > 0.0315) with more highly used habitat and less avoided habitat than expected. Consistent with research in other regions, 72% of an American marten home-range contained highly used cover-types and 18% of a home-range contained avoided types with the remainder of the average home-range composed of neutral cover-types. This suggests that Wisconsin American martens select habitat at the home-range scale based on the occurrence of highly used and avoided cover types. Proportions of selection categories in core areas did not differ significantly from what was available in the study area or in home-ranges. Core areas were significantly smaller than home-ranges and this observation combined with the lack of cover-type selection at the core area scale suggests that American martens select core areas based upon micro-site features (e.g., rest sites) rather than broad-scale cover types. The findings presented here may assist wildlife managers in management activities by identifying potentially suitable habitat.

INTRODUCTION

Literature on the ecology of American marten (Maries americana) in Wisconsin is scarce. This is unfortunate, as this species is important both culturally and ecologically within this region. For example, the American marten is a clan animal (Waabizheshi) of the Ojibwe people, thus is significant in many aspects of their culture. American martens are also the only state-listed endangered mammal (WI Statute 5529.415). Regionally, researchers and managers recognize the American marten as a forest-sensitive species and a mature forest indicator. The Eastern Region of the U.S. Forest Service lists the American marten as a Regional Forester Sensitive Species requiring National Forests to provide habitat for this species. In Michigan, the Ottawa National Forest planning process recently identified the American marten as one of four indicator species they will use to determine the success of implementation of the forest management plan (USDA, 2006). Despite its role, there is still a poor understanding of its landscape-scale habitat needs in Wisconsin and the Great Lakes region.

American marten populations decreased across most of their range in Wisconsin due to habitat loss and exploitation in the early 1900s. The species was considered extirpated from Wisconsin in 1925 (Jackson, 1961) and was listed as state-endangered in 1972 (WI Statute 5529.415). Subsequently, American martens were reintroduced on the west (Chequamegon) and east (Nicolet) portions of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest in Wisconsin; one reintroduction was near Eagle River (Nicolet) in 1975-1983 and the other near Clam Lake (Chequamegon) in 1987-1990 (Williams et al., 2007). After reintroduction there was significant range expansion around the original release sites (Woodford In Litt.), subsequently populations decreased and there has been little evidence of range expansion since (Wydeven et al., 2002; Gilbert et al., 2005).

American marten home-range areas are reported as larger than expected based on body mass, with home-range areas of males larger than those of females (Buskirk and McDonald, 1989). Reported home-range areas of American martens vary due to several reasons including; the methods of determining home-ranges, the number of animals sampled and/ or differences in habitat quality (Powell, 1994). …

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