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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Spatial ecology and resource selection of a high elevation American marten population in the northeastern United States.


Alexej Sirén

P.J. Pekins

M.J. Ducey

J.R. Kilborn

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
Secondary Title:
Canadian Journal of Zoology


High-elevation forests that contain mature, closed canopy stands are considered important habitat for American martens (Martes americana (Turton, 1806)) in the northeastern United States. To investigate this hypothesis, we monitored 15 radio-collared martens over a 2-year period and measured spatial use, as well as second- and third-order resource selection, from 33 seasonal home ranges and 889 telemetry locations. The population was composed primarily of adults that had small home-range size with average seasonal fidelity. During leaf-off seasons, martens selected against regenerating forest at both scales and selected for mixedwood and softwood forests and areas with rugged terrain within home ranges. Second-order selection was less pronounced during leaf-on seasons, yet martens exhibited greater selection for hardwood forest and areas with rugged terrain within home ranges. Home-range size was correlated positively with the amount of regenerating forest and body-condition index scores were lower during winter, indicating that these spatial and temporal attributes were influential. Although martens utilized low-elevation forest with extensive timber harvesting, contiguous, mature, and rugged high-elevation forest was used preferentially during winter. Land managers should minimize disturbance of montane ecosystems to ensure population viability for martens and other boreal forest species along distributional edges.