Abundance trends of American martens in Michigan based on statistical population reconstruction

Authors

  • John R. Skalski,

    Corresponding author
    1. School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington, 1325 Fourth Avenue, Suite 1820, Seattle, WA 98101-2509, USA
    • School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington, 1325 Fourth Avenue, Suite 1820, Seattle, WA 98101-2509, USA.
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  • Joshua J. Millspaugh,

    1. Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences, University of Missouri, 302 Natural Resources Building, Columbia, MO 65211, USA
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  • Michael V. Clawson,

    1. School of Forest Resources, University of Washington, 1325 Fourth Avenue, Suite 1820, Seattle, WA 98101-2509, USA
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  • Jerrold L. Belant,

    1. Carnivore Ecology Laboratory, Forest and Wildlife Research Center, Mississippi State University, Box 9690, Mississippi State, MS 39762, USA
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  • Dwayne R. Etter,

    1. Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment, Wildlife Division, 8562 E. Stoll Road, East Lansing, MI 48823, USA
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  • Brian J. Frawley,

    1. Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment, Wildlife Division, PO Box 30444, Lansing, MI 48909, USA
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  • Paul D. Friedrich

    1. Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment, Wildlife Division, 4125 Beaumont Rd., Lansing, MI 48910, USA
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  • Associate Editor: Gary C. White

Abstract

Estimating the dynamics of furbearer populations is challenging because their elusive behavior and low densities make observations difficult. Statistical population reconstruction is a flexible approach to demographic assessment for harvested populations, but the technique has not been applied to furbearers. We extended this approach to furbearers and analyzed 8 yr of age-at-harvest data for American marten (Martes americana) in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Marten abundance estimates showed a general downward trend from an estimate of equation image = 1,733.3 equation image animals in 2000 to equation image = 1,163.9 equation image in 2007. The harvest probability of martens increased nearly 5-fold from 0.0542 equation image in 2000 to 0.2637 equation image in 2007, which corresponded to a 5-fold increase in trap-nights. Continued monitoring of martens in the Upper Peninsula, Michigan, and a reassessment of current harvest regulations are necessary given the estimated decreases. Moreover, we do not encourage the use of harvest indices as the sole technique to assess the status and trends of marten and fisher populations. Auxiliary studies in the Upper Peninsula, Michigan, will allow for continued use and improvement in the application of these models. © 2011 The Wildlife Society.

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