Canadian Forest Service Publications

Characteristics of the boreal mixedwood forest associated with the use of subnivean access points by American martens. 2013. McLaren, B.E.; Gammond, P.R.; Thompson, I.D. Ecoscience 20(4)383-390.

Year: 2013

Issued by: Great Lakes Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 35567

Language: English

Availability: PDF (request by e-mail)

Available from the Journal's Web site.
DOI: 10.2980/20-4-3634

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Habitat for American martens (Martes americana) is associated with forest types that offer fine-scale structural complexity in part used to access the winter subnivean environment, which is used for food procurement, predator avoidance, and rest. We assessed habitat characteristics associated with points of subnivean access by martens from winter tracking in a boreal mixedwood forest in northern Ontario. We then assessed areas designated as reserved marten habitat according to Forest Management Guidelines for the Provision of Marten Habitat in Ontario with respect to these characteristics. Coarse woody debris counts were positively associated with subnivean access. We found some evidence that subnivean access points differed in a transition from patches of coniferous to mixedwood forest, defined by tree basal area. Especially in mixedwood patches, deciduous shrub density may also facilitate subnivean access. Development of guidelines to protect features associated with fine-scale structural complexity important in winter to martens should be a research priority. Nomenclature: Flora of North America Editorial Committee, 1993; Wilson & Reeder, 1993.

Plain Language Summary

American martens are considered an indicator species of sustainable forestry throughout most of boreal Canada. We examined fine-scale features of marten habitat selection in the boreal mixedwood forest. In particular, we looked at features that provide access points under the snow (subnivean), which are used by marten to avoid predators, hunt for prey and to rest. We wanted to know whether the current guidelines for provision of marten habitat were appropriate for these features in mixedwoods. We suggest that management practices in mixedwoods that result in a dense understory structure, such as patches of shrubs, patches of dense conifers, and a continuous supply of snags and woody debris is important in providing access to the subnivean zone for marten. This is important to managers because it supports the persistence of marten in a range of landscapes (in addition to old growth conifer forest).