A species’ potential distribution can be modelled adequately only if no factor other than habitat availability affects its occurrences. Space use by stone marten Martes foina is likely to be affected by interspecific competition with the strictly related pine marten Martes martes, the latter being able to outcompete the first species in forested habitats. Hence, to point out the environmental factors which determine the distribution and density of the stone marten, a relatively understudied mesocarnivore, we applied two non-invasive survey methods, camera-trapping and faecal-DNA based genetic analysis, in an Alpine area where the pine marten was deemed to be absent (Val Grande National Park N Italy). Camera trapping was conducted from October 2014 to November 2015, using up to 27 cameras. Marten scats were searched for between July and November 2015 and, to assess density, in spring 2017. Species identification was accomplished by a PCR-RFLP method, while 17 autosomal microsatellites were used for individual identification. The stone marten occurred in all available habitats (83% of trapping sites and 73.2% of scats); nonetheless, habitat suitability, as assessed using MaxEnt, depended on four major land cover variables—rocky grasslands, rocks and debris, beech forests and chestnut forests—, martens selecting forests and avoiding open rocky areas. Sixteen individuals were identified, of which 14 related to each other, possibly forming six different groups. Using capwire estimators, density was assessed as 0.95 (0.7–1.3) ind/km2. In the study area, the widespread stone marten selected forested areas, attaining density values like those reported for the pine marten in northern Europe and suggesting that patterns of habitat selection may depend on the relative abundance of the two competing martens.

Spatial ecology of the stone marten in an Alpine area: combining camera-trapping and genetic surveys / A. Balestrieri, A. Mosini, F. Fonda, M. Piana, P. Tirozzi, A. Ruiz-Gonzalez, E. Capelli, M. Vergara, L.J. Chueca, G. Chiatante, C. Movalli. - In: MAMMAL RESEARCH. - ISSN 2199-2401. - 66:2(2021 Apr), pp. 267-279. [10.1007/s13364-021-00564-9]

Spatial ecology of the stone marten in an Alpine area: combining camera-trapping and genetic surveys

A. Balestrieri
;
2021

Abstract

A species’ potential distribution can be modelled adequately only if no factor other than habitat availability affects its occurrences. Space use by stone marten Martes foina is likely to be affected by interspecific competition with the strictly related pine marten Martes martes, the latter being able to outcompete the first species in forested habitats. Hence, to point out the environmental factors which determine the distribution and density of the stone marten, a relatively understudied mesocarnivore, we applied two non-invasive survey methods, camera-trapping and faecal-DNA based genetic analysis, in an Alpine area where the pine marten was deemed to be absent (Val Grande National Park N Italy). Camera trapping was conducted from October 2014 to November 2015, using up to 27 cameras. Marten scats were searched for between July and November 2015 and, to assess density, in spring 2017. Species identification was accomplished by a PCR-RFLP method, while 17 autosomal microsatellites were used for individual identification. The stone marten occurred in all available habitats (83% of trapping sites and 73.2% of scats); nonetheless, habitat suitability, as assessed using MaxEnt, depended on four major land cover variables—rocky grasslands, rocks and debris, beech forests and chestnut forests—, martens selecting forests and avoiding open rocky areas. Sixteen individuals were identified, of which 14 related to each other, possibly forming six different groups. Using capwire estimators, density was assessed as 0.95 (0.7–1.3) ind/km2. In the study area, the widespread stone marten selected forested areas, attaining density values like those reported for the pine marten in northern Europe and suggesting that patterns of habitat selection may depend on the relative abundance of the two competing martens.
Camera-trapping; Martes foina; Non-invasive genetic sampling; Population density
Settore BIO/07 - Ecologia
24-mar-2021
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/2434/878697
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