Landscape Ecology

, Volume 24, Issue 6, pp 759–773 | Cite as

Developing and testing a landscape habitat suitability model for the American marten (Martes americana) in the Cascades mountains of California

  • Thomas A. KirkEmail author
  • William J. Zielinski
Research Article


We used field surveys and Geographic Information System data to identify landscape-scale habitat associations of American martens (Martes americana) and to develop a model to predict their occurrence in northeastern California. Systematic surveys using primarily enclosed track plates, with 10-km spacing, were conducted across a 27,700 km2 area of largely forested, mountain terrain. Martens were detected at 20/184 (10.8%) of the sample units, aggregated in three distinct regions. We investigated habitat selection at multiple scales using circular assessment areas of 3, 20, and 80 km2. The model for the largest assessment area best fit the data and included the following predictors: amount of reproductive habitat, number of habitat patches and land ownership category. These results support the hypothesis that martens select habitat based upon broad scale landscape conditions and that these conditions vary with ownership. We tested the model using an independent set of data, collected primarily during the winter. Poor fit of the test data in some locations raised concerns that our model, which was developed using data collected during the snow-free season, may not predict winter distribution well. We are investigating possible causes for the seasonal variation and until they can be incorporated our model represents a conservative view of marten habitat suitability based on summer occupancy. During the summer months, which is the reproductive season, martens are predicted to occur largely in relatively undisturbed landscapes where high-elevation, late-successional forests are common.


American marten Habitat Landscape pattern GIS Martes americana Modeling Landscape ecology Model testing Track plates Conservation planning California 



Funding was provided by USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station and USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Region. Special thanks to L. Ollivier and J. Baldwin for statistical advice, J. Werren and B. Hogoboom for GIS work, and B. Howard for database management. Thanks to R. Schlexer and C. Ogan for logistical support. We also thank S. Steinberg, R. Lamberson, J. Dunk, and L. Fox III of Humboldt State University for GIS and statistical advice and M. McKenzie for editorial help. The Lassen, Plumas, Tahoe, Shasta-Trinity and Klamath National Forests provided assistance with field survey logistics, special thanks in this regard to M. Williams, G. Rotta, D. Duncan, and M. Tierney. Thanks also to M. Magnuson, L. Johnson, and S. Koenig of Lassen Volcanic National Park. We are especially grateful to the field crew who collected carnivore data under difficult conditions: J. Tigner, M. Levine, K. Slauson, J. McIntosh, M. Stersic, R. Nickerson, J. Vollmer, J. Shrum, M. Truex, K. Streng, R. Schlexer, K. Williams, J. Korpela, J. Donahue, S. Hendrixson, L. Conyac, C. Ziemer, A. Rogers, T. Jarvis, J. Rizzi, R. Silverman, J. Bolis, and Z. Chafe.

Supplementary material

10980_2009_9349_MOESM_ESM.docx (13 kb)
(DOCX 13 kb)


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Copyright information

© US Government 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.USDA Forest Service, Lassen National ForestSusanvilleUSA
  2. 2.Pacific Southwest Research Station, USDA Forest Service, Redwood Sciences LaboratoryArcataUSA

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