Mammal Research

, Volume 61, Issue 4, pp 327–335 | Cite as

Pine marten vs. stone marten in agricultural lowlands: a landscape-scale, genetic survey

  • Alessandro Balestrieri
  • Aritz Ruiz-González
  • Enrica Capelli
  • Maria Vergara
  • Claudio Prigioni
  • Nicola Saino
Original Paper

Abstract

We applied molecular analysis methods to faecal samples to determine both the overall level of occupancy for pine marten (Martes martes) and current stone marten (Martes foina) distribution in the western Po plain. Surveys were carried out in a 10 × 10-km grid, applying a hybrid sampling design. The specific identification of faecal samples was accomplished either by a polymerase chain reaction–restriction fragment length polymorphism (PCR-RFLP) method or by amplifying and sequencing a 330-bp mtDNA fragment of the control region (D-loop). Identification success was 93.7 % by the PCR-RFLP and 71.7 % by DNA sequencing. Overall, we collected 47 pine marten records and 24 stone marten records. Thirty-six squares (81.8 %) were found to be positive for at least one marten species, the distribution range of the two species scarcely overlapping. The pine marten was shown to be widespread in lowland areas on the north bank of the River Po, which is probably acting as a barrier to its expansion. In this area, stone marten records were few, while it is was widespread on the south bank of the river. Pine marten expansion may have forced the stone marten to restrict itself to less suitable agricultural and urban areas. Nonetheless, we cannot exclude that stone marten range and/or numbers may being declining as a consequence of pine marten expansion. Six pine marten samples belonged to the Central-Northern European (CNE) phylogroup. The relatively high percentage of CNE martens is consistent with the hypothesis of an ongoing expansion of Alpine and trans-Alpine pine marten populations.

Keywords

Martes martes Martes foina Range variation PCR-RFLP Phylogroups 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This study has been partially funded by the Basque Government through the Research group on “Systematics, Biogeography and Population Dynamics” (Ref. IT317-10; GIC10/76; IT575/13), the SAIOTEK research programme (Ref: S-PE11UN028). Ruiz-González holds a post doc fellowship awarded by the Dept. of Education Universities and Research of the Basque Government (Ref. DKR-2012-64). A. Balestrieri was supported by a Ph.D. fellowship awarded by the Dept. of Biosciences of the University of Milan. Lesley C. Wright kindly revised the English language. The comments and suggestions of two anonymous referees helped to greatly improve the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

13364_2016_295_MOESM1_ESM.docx (21 kb)
ESM 1(DOCX 21.0 kb)

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Copyright information

© Mammal Research Institute, Polish Academy of Sciences, Białowieża, Poland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alessandro Balestrieri
    • 1
  • Aritz Ruiz-González
    • 2
    • 3
  • Enrica Capelli
    • 4
  • Maria Vergara
    • 2
    • 3
  • Claudio Prigioni
    • 4
  • Nicola Saino
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiosciencesUniversity of MilanMilanItaly
  2. 2.Department of Zoology and Animal Cell BiologyUniversity of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU)Vitoria-GasteizSpain
  3. 3.Systematics, Biogeography and Population Dynamics Research Group, Lascaray Research CenterUniversity of the Basque Country,UPV/EHUVitoria-GasteizSpain
  4. 4.Department of Earth and Environmental SciencesUniversity of PaviaPaviaItaly

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