American marten population ecology and role in forest community dynamics
August 2013 - June 2018
- Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife
- The University of Maine, Orono
American marten (Martes americana) are an important furbearer to trappers in Maine and also provide value to hikers, skiers, and wildlife watchers. In addition, marten play key ecological roles as efficient predators of small mammals and as prey to larger carnivores. Marten require a component of mature forest and horizontal structure, features that are predicted to be limited on the Maine landscape in the future. In Maine marten are one of only two furbearer species that the state limits the harvest. Current population monitoring is predicated on the analysis of fur tagging records, a method thwart with uncertainty. Therefore, it is currently unknown how well harvest data track actual marten population dynamics. Given that climate change and land use practices are both predicted to deleteriously affect the amount of suitable marten habitat, and the importance of marten to Maine, a more accurate and robust monitoring program is needed. This project will test various sampling designs and methodologies to arrive at the best, unbiased predictor of population size and trend through time. Additionally, this project will interact with others in our research group to address broader concepts linking population processes to community-level dynamics.