Characteristics of American marten den sites in Wyoming

Publication Information

Author(s):
Dean E Pearson
Leonard F Ruggiero
Stephen E Henry
Publication Date: 1998
Tags: WLCI Related Publication

We examined characteristics of den structures and den sites used by female American marten (Martes americana) for natal and maternal dens in the Sierra Madre Range, Wyoming. During 1988-95, we located 18 natal dens (parturition sites) and 97 maternal dens (sites where kits were present exclusive of parturition) used by 10 female marten. Important den structures included rock crevices (28%), snags (25%), red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) middens (19%), and logs (16%). Resource selection function (RSF) analysis showed that an individual selection model provided a significantly better fit than a null model or pooled selection model, indicating that the sample of marten selected maternal den sites that differed from random sites, and that individual animals did not select maternal den sites in the same manner. Six marten individually exhibited significant selection for maternal den sites within home ranges. Overall selection coefficients for maternal dens indicated the number of squirrel middens was th emost important variable, followed by number of snags 20-40 cm diameter at breast height (dbh), number of snags ?41 cm dbh, and number of hard logs ?41 cm in diameter. Selection of natal den sites was also significant via comparison between selection and no-selection models, with number of middens, number of Engelmann spruce (Picea engelmannii) and subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa) >20 cm dbh, and number of hard logs ?41 cm in diameter the most important variables in descending order of importance. Large logs, large snags, and large, live spruce and fir trees are important characteristics for marten den sites in the central Rocky Mountains. The prominence of middens at den sites suggests red squirrels provide important denning structures as well as prey for marten.

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