Biological Invasions

, Volume 17, Issue 11, pp 3093–3100 | Cite as

The chronology of the introduction of two species of Martes (Carnivora, Mustelidae) on the Western Mediterranean Islands: first direct radiocarbon evidence

  • Alejandro Valenzuela
  • Josep Antoni Alcover
Invasion Note


We provide the first direct radiocarbon evidence of the introduction of two species of the genus Martes on two Western Mediterranean islands. The dated bones point to a Roman introduction of the Pine Marten (Martes martes) to Mallorca. The introduction of the Stone Marten (Martes foina) into Eivissa has been previous to eigth century AD. These results predate the currently assumed time of arrival of both species to these islands in several centuries, and establish a benchmark of reference to explore its possible ecological consequences.


Carnivores Martes martes Martes foina Radiocarbon Balearic Islands Western Mediterranean Human mediated introduction 



We would like to thank to Mathieu Boudin, Mark van Strydonck and Christopher Bronk Ramsey for the facilities that they give us with the radiocarbon analyses. We also thank to Joan Roig for allowing us to examine the Stone Marten mandible from Can Pere Arabí, Dr Jordi Fernández for the sending of the material and Dr Joan Ramon (Consell Insular d’Eivissa) for the analysis permits. We thank the team excavating Pollentia (Dr. Antoni Arribas (+), Dr. Miquel Angel Cau, Dra Margarita Orfila, Dra Esther Chávez) to allow us to study Pollentian materials. This research is included in the Research Project “Cambios holocénicos en la biodiversidad animal de las islas de la Macaronesia y de Baleares”/(CGL2012-38087) of the Spanish Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación. The manuscript has been benefited by the comments of two anonymous reviewers. One of the authors (AV) is supported by a JAE-Predoc scholarship.


  1. Alcover JA (1979) Els mamífers de les Balears. Editorial Moll, PalmaGoogle Scholar
  2. Alcover JA (1980) Note on the origin of the present mammalian fauna from the Balearic and Pityusic islands. Misc Zool 6:141–149Google Scholar
  3. Alcover JA (2010) Introduccions de mamífers a les Balears: l’establiment d’un nou ordre. In: Álvarez C (ed) Seminari sobre espècies introduïdes i invasores a les Illes Balears. Govern de les Illes Balears, SóllerGoogle Scholar
  4. Alcover JA, Delibes M, Gosàlbez J, Nadal J (1986) Martes martes Linnaeus, 1758 a les Balears. Misc Zool 10:323–333Google Scholar
  5. Altuna J (1973) Distinción craneal entre la Marta (Martes martes) y la Garduña (Martes foina) (Mammalia). Munibe 25:33–38Google Scholar
  6. Anderson E (1970) Quaternary evolution of the genus Martes (Carnivora, Mustelidae). Acta Zool Fenn 130:1–132Google Scholar
  7. Arenborg J, Heinemeier J, Lynnerup N, Nielsen HL, Rud N, Sveinbjörnsdóttir ÁE (1999) Change of diet of the Greenland Vikings determined from stable carbon isotope analysis and 14C dating of their bones. Radiocarbon 41:157–168Google Scholar
  8. Bakaloudis DE, Vlachos CG, Papakosta MA, Bontzorlos VA, Chatzinikos EN (2012) Diet composition and feeding strategies of the Stone Marten (Martes foina) in a typical Mediterranean ecosystem. Sci World J 2012. doi: 10.1100/2012/163920 (Art. No. 163920) Google Scholar
  9. Barrett JH, Beukens RP, Brothwell DR (2000) Radiocarbon dating and marine reservoir correction of Viking age Christian bones from Orkney. Antiquity 74:537–543Google Scholar
  10. Bronk Ramsey C (2009) Bayesian analysis of radiocarbon dates. Radiocarbon 51:337–360Google Scholar
  11. Cegarra M, Morales-Pérez JV (2004) Anexo II: la fauna de Can Corda. In: Puig RM, Díes E, Gómez C (eds) Can Corda. Un asentamiento rural púnico-romano en el suroeste de Ibiza. Govern de les Illes Balears, Eivissa, pp 167–171Google Scholar
  12. Chisholm BS, Nelson DE, Schwarcz HP (1982) Stable-carbon isotope ratios as a measure of marine versus terrestrial protein in ancient diets. Science 216:1131–1132CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Clevenger AP (1993a) The european pine marten in the Balearic islands, Spain. Mamm Rev 23:65–72CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Clevenger AP (1993b) Pine Marten comparative feeding ecology in an island and mainland population of Spain. as 58:212–224Google Scholar
  15. Clevenger AP (1994) Feeding ecology of the Eurasian pine marten (Martes martes) and stone marten (Martes foina) in Europe. In: Buskirk SW, Harestad AS, Raphael MG, Powell RA (eds) Martens, sables and fishers: biology and conservation. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, pp 326–340Google Scholar
  16. Clevenger AP (1996) Frugivory of Martes martes and Genetta genetta in an insular Mediterranean habitat. Rev Ecol Terre Vie 51:19–28Google Scholar
  17. Corbet GB, Harris S (1991) The handbook of British mammals. Blackwell Scientific Publications, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  18. Coy J (1986) Faunal analysis. In: Joukowsky (ed) Prehistoric aphrodisias, an account of the excavations and artefact studies, vol. 1. Institut Supérieur d’Archéologie et d’Histoire de l’Art, Louvain-la-Neuve, pp 180–190Google Scholar
  19. Davis SJM (1984) Khirokitia and its mammal remains. A Neolithic Noah’s ark. In: Le Brun A (ed) Fouilles récentes à khirokitia (Chypre) 1977–1981. Edition Récherches sur les Civilisations, Paris, pp 147–162Google Scholar
  20. De Marinis AM, Masseti M (2003) The Weasel (Mustela nivalis) on the Mediterranean islands. Mamm Biol 68:181–186Google Scholar
  21. Delibes M, Amores F (1986) The stone marten from Ibiza. Misc Zool 10:335–345Google Scholar
  22. DeNiro MJ (1985) Post-mortem preservation and alteration of in vivo bone collagen isotope ratios in relation to paleodietary reconstruction. Nature 317:806–809CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Frison GC (2004) Survival by hunting: prehistoric human predators and animal prey. University of California Press, BerkeleyCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Gamble CS (1985) Formation processes and the animal bones from the sanctuary at Phylakopi. In: Renfrew C (ed) The Archaeology of Cult. The sanctuary at Phylakopi. Thames & Hudson, London, pp 479–484Google Scholar
  25. Goldberg CF (1993) The Application of stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analysis to human dietary reconstruction in Prehistoric Southern California. Ph.D. Dissertation, University of California, Los AngelesGoogle Scholar
  26. Goszczyński J (1976) Composition of the food of martens. Acta Theriol 21:527–534CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Grundbacher B (1992) Nachweis des Baunmarders, Martes martes, in der neolithischen Ufersiedlung von Twann (Kanton Bern, Schweiz) sowie Ammerkungen zur osteometrischen Unterscheidung von Martes martes and M. foina. Z Säugetierk 57:201–210Google Scholar
  28. Halstead P, Jones G (1987) Bioarchaeological remains from Kalythies Cave, Rhodes. In: Sampson A (ed) The Neolithic period in the Dodecanese. Ministry of Culture of Greece, Athens, pp 135–152Google Scholar
  29. Jarman MR (1996) Human influence in the development of the Cretan mammalian fauna. In: Reese DS (ed) Pleistocene and Holocene fauna of Crete and its first settlers. Prehistory Press, Philadelphia, pp 283–293Google Scholar
  30. Le Brun A (2001) At the other end of the sequence: the Cypriot Aceramic Neolithic as seen from Khirokitia. In: Swiny S (ed) The earliest prehistory of Cyprus. From colonization to exploitation. Cyprus American Archaeological Research Institute Monograph Series 2, Boston, pp 109–118Google Scholar
  31. Levine M (1983) La fauna di filiestru (trincea D). In: Trump DH (ed) La grotta di filiestru a Bonu Ighinu, Mara (SS). Sopraintendanza Beni Archeologici, Sassari, pp 109–131Google Scholar
  32. Libois R (1991) La Fouine (Martes foina Erxeleben, 1777). Encyclopédie des carnivores de France, Société Française pour l’étude et la protection des Mammifères. Bohallard, PuceulGoogle Scholar
  33. Llorente L, Montero I, Morales A (2011) Earliest occurrence of the Beech Marten (Martes foina Erxleben, 1777) in the Iberian Peninsula. In: Brugal JP, Gardeisen A, Zucker A (eds) Prédateurs dan tous leurs états. Évolution, biodiversité, interactions, mythes, symboles. XXXIe réncontres internationales d’archéologie et d’histoire d’Antibes. Éditions APDCA, AntibesGoogle Scholar
  34. Long JL (2003) Introduced mammals of the world. Their history, distribution and influence. CSIRO Publishing, MelbourneGoogle Scholar
  35. Longin R (1971) New method of collagen extraction for radiocarbon dating. Nature 230:241–242CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. Lyman RL (2012) A historical sketch on the concepts of archaeological association, context, and provenience. J Archaeol Method Theory 19:207–240CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Masseti M (1995a) Quaternary biogeography of the Mustelidae family on the Mediterranean islands. Hystrix 7:17–34Google Scholar
  38. Masseti M (1995b) Presence and distribution of the stone marten, Martes foina Erxleben, 1777, on the island of Crete (Greece). Hystrix 7:73–78Google Scholar
  39. Masters PM (1987) Preferential preservation of non-colagenous protein during bone diagenesis: implications for chronometric and stable isotopic measurements. Geochimica 51:3209–3214CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Mazza PPA, Lovari S, Masini F, Masseti M, Rustioni M (2013) A multidisciplinary approach to the analysis of multifactorial land mammal colonization of islands. Bioscience 63:939–951CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. McKinney ML, Lockwood JL, Frederick DR (1996) Does ecosystem and evolutionary stability include rare species? Palaeogeogr Palaeoclim 127:191–207CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Miller GS (1912) Catalogue of the mammals of Western Europe. British Museum of Natural History, LondonGoogle Scholar
  43. Morales A, Rofes J (2008) Early evidence for the Algerian Hedgehog in Europe. J Zool 274:9–12Google Scholar
  44. Newsome SD, Phillips DL, Culleton BJ, Guilderson TP, Koch PL (2004) Dietary reconstruction of an early to middle Holocene human population from the central California Coast: insights from advanced stable isotope mixing models. J Archaeol Sci 31:1101–1115CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Orfila M (2000) El fòrum de Pollentia. Memòria de les campanyes d’excavacions realitzades entre els anys 1996–1999. Ajuntament d’Alcúdia, AlcúdiaGoogle Scholar
  46. Orfila M, Arribas A, Cau MA (1999) La ciudad romana de Pollentia: el foro. Arch Esp Arqueol 72:99–118CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Orfila M, Chávez ME, Cau MA (2006) Pollentia and the Roman cities of the Balearic Islands. In: Abad L, Keay S, Ramallo S (eds) Early Roman Towns in Hispania Tarraconensis. Journal of Roman Archaeology Supplementary Series 62, Portsmouth, pp 133–144Google Scholar
  48. Phoca-Cosmetatou N (2008) Economy and occupation in the Cyclades during the Late Neolithic: the example of Ftelia, Mykonos. In: Brodie NJ, Doole J, Gavalas G, Renfrew C (eds) Horizon: a colloquium of the prehistory of the Cyclades. McDonald Institute fro Archaeological Research, Cambridge, pp 19–27Google Scholar
  49. Reimer PJ, Reimer RW (2001) A marine reservoir correction database and on-line interface. Radiocarbon 43:461–463Google Scholar
  50. Reimer PJ, Bard E, Bayliss A, Beck JW, Blackwell PG, Bronk Ramsey C, Buck CE, Cheng H, Edwards RL, Friedrich M, Grootes PM, Guilderson TP, Haflidason H, Hajdas I, Hatté C, Heaton TJ, Hoffmann DL, Hogg AG, Hughen KA, Kaiser KF, Kromer B, Manning SW, Niu M, Reimer RW, Richards DA, Scott EM, Southon JR, Staff RA, Turney CSM, van der Plicht J (2013) IntCal13 and Marine13 radiocarbon age calibration curves 0–50,000 years cal BP. Radiocarbon 55:1869–1887CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Reumer JWF, Sanders EAC (1984) Changes in the vertebrate fauna of Menorca in prehistoric and classical times. Z Säugetierk 49:321–325Google Scholar
  52. Richter J (2005) Selective hunting of Pine Marten, Martes martes, in Late Mesolithic Denmark. J Archaeol Sci 32:1223–1231CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Riera N, Traveset A, García O (2002) Breakage of mutualisms by exotic species: the case of Cneorum tricoccon L. in the Balearic Islands (Western Mediterranean Sea). J Biogeogr 29:713–719CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Schoeninger MJ, DeNiro MT, Tauber H (1983) Stable nitrogen isotope ratios of bone collagen reflect marine and terrestrial components of prehistoric human diet. Science 220:1381–1383CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  55. Slota PJ, Jull AJT, Linick TW, Toolin LJ (1987) Preparation of small samples for 14C accelerator targets by catalytic reduction of CO. Radiocarbon 29:303–306Google Scholar
  56. Stuvier M, Braziunas TF (1993) Modeling atmospheric 14C influences and 14C ages of marine samples to 10,000 BC. Radiocarbon 35:215–230Google Scholar
  57. Traveset A (1995) Seed dispersal of Cneorum tricoccon L. (Cneoraceae) by lizards and mammals in the Balearic Islands. Acta Oecol 16:171–178Google Scholar
  58. Trolle-Lassen T (1986) Human exploitation of the Pine Marten (Martes martes L.) at the late Mesolithic settlement of Tybrind Vig in western Funen. Striae 24:119–124Google Scholar
  59. Tuross N, Fogel ML, Hare PE (1988) Variablility in the preservation of the isotopic composition of collagen from fossil bone. Geochimica 52:929–935CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Valenzuela A, Alcover JA (2013a) Radiocarbon evidence for a prehistoric deliberate translocation: the Weasel (Mustela nivalis) of Mallorca. Biol Invasions 15:717–722CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Valenzuela A, Alcover JA (2013b) Documenting introductions: the earliest evidence for the presence of dog (Canis familiaris Linnaeus 1758) in the prehistory of the Balearic Islands. J Island Coast Archaeol 8:422–435CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Van Strydonck M, Boudin M, Ramis D (2010) Primer intent de mesurar l’edat del compartiment marí de 14C de les aigües costaneres de les illes Balears. Endins 34:181–188Google Scholar
  63. Vandeputte K, Moens L, Dams R (1996) Improved sealed-tube combustion of organic samples to CO2 for stable isotopic analysis, radiocarbon dating and percent carbon determinations. Anal Lett 29:2761–2774CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Vigne JD (1992) Zooarchaeology and the biogeographical history of the mammals of Corsica and Sardinia since the last ice age. Mamm Rev 22:87–96CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Vigne JD, Guilaine J, Debue K, Haye L, Gérard P (2004) Early taming of the cat in Cyprus. Science 304:259CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  66. Walker PL, DeNiro MJ (1986) Stable nitrogen and carbon isotope ratios in bone collagen as indices of prehistoric dietary dependence on marine and terrestrial resources in Southern California. Am J of Phys Anthropol 71:51–61CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Whittaker R (1998) Island biogeography: ecology, evolution and conservation. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  68. Whittaker R, Fernández-Palacios JM (2007) Island biogeography: ecology, evolution and conservation. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  69. Wilkens B (1996) Faunal remains from Italian excavations on Crete. In: Reese DS (ed) Pleistocene and Holocene fauna of Crete and its first settlers. Prehistory Press, Philadelphia, pp 241–261Google Scholar
  70. Wilkens B (2003) Hunting and breeding in ancient Crete. Br Sch Athen Stud 9:85–90Google Scholar
  71. Wilkens B (2012) Resti faunistici dai livelli neolitici della Grotta Verde di Capo Caccia (Alghero, SS). In: De Grossi J, Saccà D, Tozzi C (eds) Atti del 6 Convegno Nazionale di Archeozoologia. Associazione Italiana di Archeozoologia, Lucca, pp 125–129Google Scholar
  72. Winterfeld F (1885) Über quartäre Mustelidenreste Deutschlands. Z Dtsch Geol Ges 37:826–864Google Scholar
  73. Xu S, Anderson R, Bryant C, Cook GT, Dougans A, Freeman S, Naysmith P, Schnabel C, Scott EM (2004) Capabilities of the new SUERC 5MV AMS facility for 14C dating. Radiocarbon 46:59–64Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departament de Biodiversitat i ConservacióInstitut Mediterrani d’Estudis Avançats (IMEDEA-CSIC)EsporlesMallorca
  2. 2.Research Associate, Division of Vertebrate Zoology/MammalogyAmerican Museum of Natural HistoryNew YorkUSA

Personalised recommendations