Analysis of tracks in snow to understand the behavior of Marten (Martes americana) in a managed forest
Adviser: André Desrochers
Coadviser: Louis Bélanger
Species occupancy studies are essential to provide basic information on wildlife habitats, but they do not inform us about how animals use those habitats. American Marten is generally considered as an old growth specialist, but is also found in a variety of seral successional stages. Our understanding of hunting behavior by this species in different stand types remains limited. I studied hunting behavior by martens by analyzing their movements in different combinations of stand types and prey availability. I did my field work in winters 2004 and 2005 at the Forêt Montmorency, 75 km North of Québec city. Twenty-six marten tracks, totaling 57 km, were sampled in the 66 km 2 study area, following a search procedure based on a random subsample of grid points laid at 1-km over the entire study area. I measured path tortuosity as an index of hunting activity. Path tortuosity was greatest when local counts of snowshoe hares and red squirrels were high, after accounting for stand type. However, stand type did not account much for variation in path tortuosity, after accounting for local prey activity. My results contribute to the mounting evidence against Marten as being an old growth specialist.