European pine marten

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European pine marten
Martes martes crop.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Mustelidae
Genus: Martes
Species: M. martes
Binomial name
Martes martes
(Linnaeus, 1758)
European Pine Marten area.png
European pine marten range
(green – native, red – introduced)

The European pine marten (Martes martes), known most commonly as the pine marten in Anglophone Europe, and less commonly also known as pineten, baum marten, or sweet marten,[full citation needed] is an animal native to Northern Europe belonging to the mustelid family, which also includes mink, otter, badger, wolverine, and weasel.

Description[edit]

Pine marten at the British Wildlife Centre

Their bodies are up to 53 cm (21 in) in length, and their bushy tails can be 25 cm (10 in). Males are slightly larger than females; typically, martens weigh around 1.5 kg (3.3 lb). Their fur is usually light to dark brown and grows longer and silkier during the winter. They have a cream- to yellow-coloured "bib" marking on their throats.

Habitat[edit]

Their habitats are usually well-wooded areas. European pine martens usually make their own dens in hollow trees or scrub-covered fields. Martens are the only mustelids with semiretractable claws. This enables them to lead more arboreal lifestyles, such as climbing or running on tree branches, although they are also relatively quick runners on the ground. They are mainly active at night and dusk. They have small, rounded, highly sensitive ears and sharp teeth adapted for eating small mammals, birds, insects, frogs, and carrion. They have also been known to eat berries, birds' eggs, nuts, and honey. European pine martens are territorial animals that mark their range by depositing feces (called scats) in prominent locations. These scats are black and twisted and can be confused with those of the fox, except that they reputedly have a floral odour.[2]

Threats[edit]

Although they are preyed upon occasionally by golden eagles, red foxes, wolves, and wildcats, humans are the largest threat to pine martens. They are vulnerable from conflict with humans, arising from predator control for other species, or following predation of livestock and the use of inhabited buildings for denning. Martens may also be affected by woodland loss.[3] Persecution (illegal poisoning and shooting) by gamekeepers, loss of habitat leading to fragmentation, and other human disturbances have caused a considerable decline in the pine marten population. They are also prized for their very fine fur in some areas. In the United Kingdom, European pine martens and their dens are offered full protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and the Environmental Protection Act 1990.[4]

Distribution[edit]

Skull

Great Britain and Ireland[edit]

In Great Britain, the species was for many years common only in northwestern Scotland.[2] A study in 2012 found that martens have spread from their Scottish Highlands stronghold, north into Sutherland and Caithness and southeastwards from the Great Glen into Moray, Aberdeenshire, Perthshire, Tayside, and Stirlingshire, with some in the Central Belt, on the Kintyre and Cowal peninsulas and on Skye and Mull. The expansion in the Galloway Forest has been limited compared with that in the core marten range. Martens were reintroduced to the Glen Trool Forest in the early 1980s and only restricted spread has occurred from there.[3] This may be due to ongoing persecution and trapping by local gamekeepers.

In England, pine martens are extremely rare, and long considered probably extinct. A scat found at Kidland Forest in Northumberland in June 2010 may represent either a recolonisation from Scotland, or a relict population that has escaped notice previously.[5] There have been numerous reported sightings of pine martens in Cumbria, however, it was not until 2011 that concrete proof – some scat that was DNA-tested – was found.[6] In July 2015, the first confirmed sighting of a pine marten in England for over a century was recorded by an amateur photographer in woodland in Shropshire.[7] In July 2017, footage of a live pine marten was captured by a camera trap in the North York Moors in Yorkshire.[8][9]

Also, a small population of pine martens is in Wales. Scat found in Cwm Rheidol forest in 2007 was confirmed to be from a pine marten using DNA testing. A male was found in 2012 as road kill near Newtown, Powys. This was the first confirmation in Wales of the species, living or dead, since 1971.[10] The Vincent Wildlife Trust (VWT) has begun a reinforcement of these mammals in the mid-Wales area. During autumn 2015, 20 pine martens were captured in Scotland, in areas where a healthy pine marten population occurs, under licence from Scottish Natural Heritage. These animals were translocated and released in an area of mid-Wales. All of the martens were fitted with radio collars and are being tracked daily to monitor their movements and find out where they have set up territories. During autumn 2016, the VWT planned to capture and release another 20 pine martens in the hope of creating a self-sustaining population.[11]

The marten is still quite rare in Ireland, but the population is recovering and spreading; its traditional strongholds are in the west and south, especially the Burren, but the population in the Midlands has significantly increased in recent years.[12] A study managed by academics at Queens University Belfast, using cameras and citizen scientists, published in 2015, showed that pine martens were distributed across all counties of Northern Ireland.[13]

As predator[edit]

The diet of the pine marten includes small mammals, carrion, birds, insects, and fruits.[14]

The recovery of the European pine marten has been credited with reducing the population of invasive grey squirrels in the UK and Ireland.[15][16] Where the range of the expanding European pine marten population meets that of the grey squirrel, the population of the grey squirrels quickly retreats and the red squirrel population recovers. Because the grey squirrel spends more time on the ground than the red squirrel, which co-evolved with the pine marten, they are thought to be far more likely to come in contact with this predator.[17]

Lifespan[edit]

The European pine marten has lived to 18 years in captivity, but in the wild, a lifespan of 8-10 years is more typical. They reach sexual maturity at 2-3 years of age.[citation needed] Copulation usually occurs on the ground and can last more than 1 hour.[18] The young are usually born in March or April after a 7-month-long gestation period in litters of one to five. Young European pine martens weigh around 30 grams at birth. The young begin to emerge from their dens by the middle of June and are fully independent around 6 months after their birth.[citation needed]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Herrero, J.; Kranz, A.; Skumatov, D.; Abramov, A.V.; Maran, T. & Monakhov, V.G. (2016). "Martes martes". The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2016: e.T12848A45199169. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-1.RLTS.T12848A45199169.en. Retrieved 11 January 2018. 
  2. ^ a b "Pine marten". The Vincent Wildlife Trust. Retrieved 10 March 2018. 
  3. ^ a b Scottish Natural Heritage; The Vincent Wildlife Trust (2013), Expansion zone survey of pine marten (Martes martes) distribution in Scotland (Project no: 13645) (PDF) (Commissioned Report), 520, retrieved 18 August 2013 
  4. ^ "Pine marten (Martes martes)". ARKive. Retrieved 18 August 2013. 
  5. ^ "Found at last! pine marten rediscovered in Northumberland". Northumberland Wildlife Trust. 1 July 2010. Retrieved 10 March 2018. 
  6. ^ "Pine Marten rediscovered in Cumbria after 10 years!". Wild Travel Magazine. May 2011. [dead link]
  7. ^ "Shropshire pine marten sighting is the first in a century". BBC News. 16 July 2015. 
  8. ^ "Rare pine marten captured on camera in Yorkshire". BBC News. 7 August 2017. 
  9. ^ "First ever images of pine marten in Yorkshire". NatureSpy.org. Retrieved 8 March 2018. 
  10. ^ McCarthy, Michael (8 November 2012). "'Extinct' animal turns up in Wales as roadside carcass proves elusive pine martens still exist". The Independent. 
  11. ^ "The pine marten in Wales". The Vincent Wildlife Trust. Retrieved 10 March 2018. 
  12. ^ Kelleher, Lynn (4 March 2013). "Red squirrels make comeback as pine martens prey on greys". Irish Independent. 
  13. ^ Macauley, Conor (6 July 2015). "QUB study shows pine martens are more common in NI than thought". BBC News. 
  14. ^ "Tufty's saviour to the rescue". The Scotsman. 29 December 2007. 
  15. ^ Monbiot, George (January 30, 2015). "How to eradicate grey squirrels without firing a shot". The Guardian. 
  16. ^ Sheehy, Emma; Lawton, Colin (March 2014). "Population crash in an invasive species following the recovery of a native predator: the case of the American grey squirrel and the European pine marten in Ireland". Biodiversity and Conservation. 23 (3): 753–774. Retrieved 10 March 2018. (subscription required)
  17. ^ "The Pine Marten: FAQs". Pine Marten Recovery Project. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  18. ^ Forder, Victoria (August 2006). "Mating behaviour in captive pine martens Martes martes" (PDF). Wildwood Trust. Retrieved 10 March 2018. 

Further reading[edit]


Gallery[edit]