Martes americana 


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Carnivora Mustelidae

Scientific Name: Martes americana
Species Authority: (Turton, 1806)
Common Name(s):
English American Marten, American Pine Marten
Martes caurina (Merriam, 1890)
Taxonomic Notes: Before 1953, two species of martens, Martes americana and Martes caurina, were recognized in North America. Subsequently, these two polytypic forms were found to intergrade in Montana and British Columbia, and they were synonymized under Martes americana, which is now considered to comprise two subspecies groups (americana and caurina). However, based on genetic data, Hicks and Carr (1997) and McGowan et al. (1999) suggested that the caurina and americana groups may indeed represent two distinct species. Wozencraft (2005) noted that most authorities have regarded caurina and americana as subspecies groups rather than as species.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Reid, F. & Helgen, K.
Reviewer(s): Duckworth, J.W. (Small Carnivore Red List Authority) & Schipper, J. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)
This species is listed as Least Concern as the species has a wide distribution range and is present in numerous protected areas. It may be undergoing to some localized declines due to hunting and habitat loss due to clear-cutting practices, however, reintroduction programs have contributed to a moderate comeback in some areas. Adequate population data are unavailable for much of the range, but the total population size is at least several hundred thousand individuals.
Previously published Red List assessments:
1996 Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: American martens occur accross most of North America from Alaska through much of forested Canada, into the northeastern United States, and south along northern California, south in the Sierra Nevada and Rocky Mountains.
Countries occurrence:
Canada; United States
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Total population size is unknown but probably is at least several hundred thousand; for example, the harvest in North America in the 1983-1984 trapping season was nearly 190,000 (Novak et al. 1987). Newfoundland population was estimated at less than 500 in early the 1990s, down from 630-875 in the early 1980s (Snyder, 1986 COSEWIC report).

Although their continental range may have declined (Gibilisco, 1994), populations of martens have not suffered the magnitude of the decrease and the species is well distributed within its geographic ranges (Zielinski et al., 2001). Adequate population data are unavailable for much of the range. Population density was found to vary from about 0.5/km2 to 1.7/km2 of good habitats (Banfield, 1974). Reintroduction projects have been carried out in northern Michigan and Wisconsin and it appears that a self-sustaining population has been restored in that region (Slough, 1994). Reintroduction also has been attempted in New Hampshire and in various other parts of the northwestern United States and southwestern Canada (Nowak, 2005).
Current Population Trend: Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented: No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: The species is typically associated with late-seral coniferous forests characterized by closed canopies, large trees, and
abundant standing and down woody material (Buskirk and Powell, 1994; Thompson and Harestad, 1994). It dens in hollow trees or logs, in rocky crevices, or in burrows. The marten is primarly nocturnal and partly arboreal but spends considerable time on the ground. The diet consists mostly of rodents and other small mammals and also includes birds, insects, fruit and carrion (Nowak, 2005). Average home size throughout North America is 8.1 km2 for males and 2.3 km2 for females, and degree of overlap varies (Powell, 1994).
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The species still occurs throughout most of this range, but because of loss of habitat, it has been extirpated from many southeastern areas (Godin, 1977; Peterson, 1966). Marten distribution and demographic rates are affected by the loss of closed-canopy forest due to logging (Bissonette et al., 1997; Chapin et al. 1998; Payer and Harrison, 2003; Thompson, 1991). Martens are still legally trapped for their fur in most of the western states (Zielinski et al. 2001). By the early twentieth century excessive trapping had severely depleted M. americana in Alaska, Canada and the western conterminous United States. The range of this species has declined (Reid 2006).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: In most state and provincial jurisdictions in western North America where it occurs, the American marten is managed as a furbearer. Protective regulations allowed the species to make a comeback in some areas, but in the eastern United States the marten survives only in small parts of Minnesota, New york and Maine (Blanchard, 1974; Mech, 1961; Mech and Rogers, 1977; Yocom, 1974). In the Pacific states, conservation measures should include a reevaluation of timber harvest plans that affect habitat in coastal forests, interagency cooperation on a coastal marten conservation assessment, and the collection of new survey information, especially on private lands in southwestern Washington and northwestern Oregon (Zielinski et al., 2001).

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.1. Forest - Boreal
suitability: Suitable  major importance:Yes
1. Forest -> 1.4. Forest - Temperate
suitability: Suitable  major importance:Yes
2. Land/water management -> 2.1. Site/area management
2. Land/water management -> 2.3. Habitat & natural process restoration

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over entire range
In-Place Species Management
  Harvest management plan:Yes
In-Place Education
5. Biological resource use -> 5.1. Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals -> 5.1.1. Intentional use (species is the target)
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

5. Biological resource use -> 5.1. Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals -> 5.1.2. Unintentional effects (species is not the target)
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

5. Biological resource use -> 5.3. Logging & wood harvesting -> 5.3.5. Motivation Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends

♦  Wearing apparel, accessories
 National : ✓ 

Bibliography [top]

Banfield, A. W. F. 1974. The Mammals of Canada. University of Toronto Press.

Buskirk, S. W. and Powell, R. A. 1994. Habitat ecology of fishers and American martens. In: Buskirk, S. W., A. Harestad, M. Raphael and R. A. Powell (eds), Martens, sables, and fishers: biology and conservation, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York.

Gibilisco, C. J. 1994. Distributional dynamics of modern Martes in North America. In: S. W. Buskirk, A. Harestad, M. Raphael, and R. A. Powell (eds), Martens, sables, and fishers: biology and conservation, pp. 59–71. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York, USA.

Hicks, S. A. and Carr, S. M. 1997. Are there two species of pine marten in North America? Genetic and evolutionary relationship within Martes. In: G. Proulx, H. N. Bryant and P. M. Woodard (eds), Martes: taxonomy, ecology, techniques, and management. Proceedings of the Second International Martes Symposium, pp. 15-28. Provincial Museum of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Mcgowan, C., Davidson, W. S. and Howes, L. A. 1999. Genetic analysis of an endangered pine marten (Martes americana) population from Newfoundland using randomly amplified polymorphic DNA markers. Canadian Journal of Zoology 77: 661-666.

Nowak, R. M. 2005. Walker’s Carnivores of the world. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, USA and London, UK.

Payer, D. C. and Harrison, D. J. 2003. Influence of forest structure on habitat use by American marten in an industrial forest. Forest Ecology and Management 179: 145-156.

Powell, R. A. 1994. Structure and spacing of Martes populations. In: S. W. Buskirk, A. Harestad, M. Raphael and R. A. Powell (eds), Martens, sables, and fishers: biology and conservation, pp. 101-121. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York.

Slough, B. G. 1994. Translocations of american martens: an evaluation of factors in success. In: S. W. Buskirk, A. Harestad, M. Raphael and R. A. Powell (eds), Martens, sables, and fishers: biology and conservation, pp. 165-178. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York.

Thompson, I. D. and Harestad, A. S. 1994. Effects of logging on American martens with models for habitat management. In: S. W. Buskirk, A. Harestad, M. Raphael and R. A. Powell (eds), Martens, sables, and fishers: biology and conservation, pp. 355–367. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York, USA.

Wozencraft, W.C. 2005. Order Carnivora. In: D.E. Wilson and D.M. Reeder (eds), Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference. Third Edition, pp. 532-628. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC, USA.

Zielinski, W. J., Slauson, K. M., Carroll, C. R., Kent, C. J. and Kudrna, D. G. 2001. Status of American martens in coastal forests of the Pacific states. Journal of Mammalogy 82: 478-490.

Citation: Reid, F. & Helgen, K. 2008. Martes americana. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T41648A10528129. . Downloaded on 29 June 2016.
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