Marten Use of Clearcuts and Residual Stands in Western Newfoundland

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Canadian Journal of Zoology





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Marten (Martes americana) inhabit primarily old-growth coniferous and mixed wood forest habitats. Widespread forest harvest operations have prompted inquiries into whether residual patches of forest left after harvesting, or regenerating clear-cuttings, provide adequate habitat for marten. In western Newfoundland, the primary method of tree harvest has been clear-cutting of large tracts of balsam fir (Abies balsamea) and black spruce (Picea mariana). The only remaining populations of marten in the province also are found in the western part of the island, with greatest densities near Little Grand Lake. This study was designed to determine if marten used regenerating clear-cuttings and small remnant patches of residual forest left after forest operations. Habitat use by marten was investigated by livetrapping and snow tracking. Residual stands were classified into five size categories, and clear-cuttings into three categories based on height of balsam fir regeneration. From June to December 1983, marten were trapped in 43 residual stands and 35 clear-cuttings. A total of 3587 trap nights yielded 57 captures of 10 male and 8 female marten. Six (10.5%) captures were in clear-cuttings, all <15 years old; 51 (89.5%) marten were captured in residual stands. Capture rates were 0.48 captures/100 trap nights in the clear-cuttings and 2.19 captures/100 trap nights in residual stands. Capture rates were greatest in residual stands 25 to 34.9 ha in size (4.62 captures/100 trap nights). From January to March 1984, marten tracks were followed for 29 km. Although clear-cuttings represented 41 % of the study area, only 26% of marten travel was recorded there, all in clear-cuttings <15 years old. Residual stands >25 ha and undisturbed forest composed 41.3% of the study area; 41.8% of marten travel was recorded there. Smaller residual areas (<25 ha) made up only 4.2% of the total area, but 32.4% of the marten travel was recorded in these areas. These data indicate that marten seldom used clear-cuttings and used residual stands >25 ha and undisturbed forests in proportion to their occurrence, but the use of smaller residual stands <25 ha was greater than expected.

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