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Ecological studies of marten (Martes Americana) in Algonquin Park, Ontario Francis, George Reid

Abstract

Live-traps were set for marten in a grid system covering about five square miles in Algonquin Park, Ontario. Marten were tagged and recaptured during parts of the summers of 1954 and 1955, and throughout the entire summers of 1956 and 1957; 452 captures of 55 marten were obtained. Fewer marten were captured in mid-summer than in late spring or late summer. The most complete recapture data indicate that six minimum foraging ranges of males ranged from 0.50 to 1.05 square miles averaging 0.74 square miles, and were occupied from 8 to 41 days. Males irregularly shifted range, overlapping foraging ranges of other marten, but moved independently of one another; throughout a summer two males moved over an area of at least 1.68 and 1.53 square miles, composed of three and four foraging ranges respectively. Females occupied discrete ranges, perhaps territories, for months or maybe years, and travelled them more thoroughly. Four such ranges averaged 0.29 square miles. Two nest dens were found, one among boulders and the other in a hollow cedar log. Immature marten started to disperse through the area in August. The resident population of marten was probably two per square mile (one male and one female) but the total number of marten found on the given area was four or five per square mile; these latter were adjacent adults and dispersing young. Summer live-trapping showed no significant difference among captures in different forest types. In winter, track censuses showed that marten preferred conifer forests; this preference coincided with shallower snow there and the greatest occurrence of Clethrionomys as food. Hence, Marten seemed to concentrate their activity in conifer forests in winter and spread through all adjacent forests in summer. Shelter from climatic extremes appeared to be the most likely basis for habitat selection. Analyses of 1427 summer scats and 191 winter and early spring scats suggest that food selected depended on its availability. Small mammals formed the major part of the diet. Small mammal trapping gave an evaluation of the relative abundance of different species; although this was not strictly comparable to an evaluation by marten predation, there was no reason to suppose that particular species of small mammals were specifically hunted by marten. The diet was heavily supplemented- with nesting birds and ripe berries during the seasonal abundance of these; many other items were sampled. The extent of the foraging range in summer appeared to be independent of forest type and available food.

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