Marten - Martes americana
American Marten, Pacific Marten,
This house cat-sized animal is distinctly weasel-like in appearance. Has short legs, prominent ears, pointed face, and a well-furred tail constituting one-third of its total length. Stiff glossy guard hairs with dense silky under-fur. The soft, dense, yellowish-brown fur shades to dark brown on its bushy tail and legs. Pale buff to orange patch on throat and breast. Has ability to rotate hind limbs to enable descending trees headfirst. Total length: 21 to 26 inches. Weight: 1.5 to 2.75 pounds (Foresman 2012).
Recent genetic data indicate that there are two species of Marten within Montana with a zone of hybridization that still needs to be mapped to inform conservation status designations and management efforts; Pacific Marten (Martes caurina) has more of a southern distribution and American Marten (Martes americana) has more of a northern distribution in western Montana (Dawson and Cook 2012, Dawson et al. 2017).
Mink has white patch on chin. Fisher is larger, dark brown with grizzled head and back. Red Fox has white tip on tail.
Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations:
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Map Help and Descriptions
(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)
Primarily a boreal animal preferring mature conifer or mixed wood forests. Severe forest disturbance can significantly reduce habitat value. Uses deadfall and snags as den sites. In Glacier National Park, most often located in mesic spruce and subalpine fir types. Stands averaged 35% canopy cover. Martens often traveled along forest cover/open area ecotones. Maternity dens in rock outcrops, tree cavities (O'Neill 1980, Burnett 1981).
Ecological Systems Associated with this Species
- Details on Creation and Suggested Uses and Limitations
How Associations Were Made
We associated the use and habitat quality (common or occasional) of each of the 82 ecological systems mapped in Montana for
vertebrate animal species that regularly breed, overwinter, or migrate through the state by:
- Using personal observations and reviewing literature that summarize the breeding, overwintering, or migratory habitat requirements of each species (Dobkin 1992, Hart et al. 1998, Hutto and Young 1999, Maxell 2000, Foresman 2012, Adams 2003, and Werner et al. 2004);
- Evaluating structural characteristics and distribution of each ecological system relative to the species' range and habitat requirements;
- Examining the observation records for each species in the state-wide point observation database associated with each ecological system;
- Calculating the percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system to get a measure of "observations versus availability of habitat".
Species that breed in Montana were only evaluated for breeding habitat use, species that only overwinter in Montana were only evaluated for overwintering habitat use, and species that only migrate through Montana were only evaluated for migratory habitat use.
In general, species were listed as associated with an ecological system if structural characteristics of used habitat documented in the literature were present in the ecological system or large numbers of point observations were associated with the ecological system.
However, species were not listed as associated with an ecological system if there was no support in the literature for use of structural characteristics in an ecological system, even if
point observations were associated with that system.
Common versus occasional association with an ecological system was assigned based on the degree to which the structural characteristics of an ecological system matched the preferred structural habitat characteristics for each species as represented in scientific literature.
The percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system was also used to guide assignment of common versus occasional association.
If you have any questions or comments on species associations with ecological systems, please contact the Montana Natural Heritage Program's Senior Zoologist.
Suggested Uses and Limitations
Species associations with ecological systems should be used to generate potential lists of species that may occupy broader landscapes for the purposes of landscape-level planning.
These potential lists of species should not be used in place of documented occurrences of species (this information can be requested at: mtnhp.org/requests
) or systematic surveys for species and evaluations of habitat at a local site level by trained biologists.
Users of this information should be aware that the land cover data used to generate species associations is based on imagery from the late 1990s and early 2000s and was only intended to be used at broader landscape scales.
Land cover mapping accuracy is particularly problematic when the systems occur as small patches or where the land cover types have been altered over the past decade.
Thus, particular caution should be used when using the associations in assessments of smaller areas (e.g., evaluations of public land survey sections).
Finally, although a species may be associated with a particular ecological system within its known geographic range, portions of that ecological system may occur outside of the species' known geographic range.
- Adams, R.A. 2003. Bats of the Rocky Mountain West; natural history, ecology, and conservation. Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado. 289 p.
- Dobkin, D. S. 1992. Neotropical migrant land birds in the Northern Rockies and Great Plains. USDA Forest Service, Northern Region. Publication No. R1-93-34. Missoula, MT.
- Foresman, K.R. 2012. Mammals of Montana. Second edition. Mountain Press Publishing, Missoula, Montana. 429 pp.
- Hart, M.M., W.A. Williams, P.C. Thornton, K.P. McLaughlin, C.M. Tobalske, B.A. Maxell, D.P. Hendricks, C.R. Peterson, and R.L. Redmond. 1998. Montana atlas of terrestrial vertebrates. Montana Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit, University of Montana, Missoula, MT. 1302 p.
- Hutto, R.L. and J.S. Young. 1999. Habitat relationships of landbirds in the Northern Region, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station RMRS-GTR-32. 72 p.
- Maxell, B.A. 2000. Management of Montana's amphibians: a review of factors that may present a risk to population viability and accounts on the identification, distribution, taxonomy, habitat use, natural history, and the status and conservation of individual species. Report to U.S. Forest Service Region 1. Missoula, MT: Wildlife Biology Program, University of Montana. 161 p.
- Werner, J.K., B.A. Maxell, P. Hendricks, and D. Flath. 2004. Amphibians and reptiles of Montana. Missoula, MT: Mountain Press Publishing Company. 262 p.
- Commonly Associated with these Ecological Systems
Forest and Woodland Systems
Human Land Use
Recently Disturbed or Modified
Shrubland, Steppe and Savanna Systems
Wetland and Riparian Systems
Eats a variety of animal and plant materials associated with the mature forest. Is an opportunistic feeder that primarily feeds on a variety of small mammals. Meadow Voles and Red-backed Voles were staples in Glacier National Park. Also used Cricetidae, jumping mice, shrews, and ground squirrels. Use of birds, insects, and fruit variable by season. Will use snowshoe hares (O'Neill 1980).
Populations fluctuate in response to prey availability, juvenile dispersal, and mortality of adult females. Average home range for adult male = 2.9 sq km, female = 0.7 sq km, resident juveniles = 0.7 sq km (Burnett 1981).
Mates during summer with young born during April. Exhibits delayed implantation and an eight- to nine-month gestation. Average litter size is two to four. Breeds in July and August. Implantation occured February 22 and April 10. Parturition 25 to 28 days after implantation. Delayed implantation period of 8 months. Gestation of 9 months.
Prior to 1953, two extant species of Marten were recognized within North America, the American Marten (M. americana) and Pacific Marten (M. caurina). However, Wright (1953) analyzed morphometric differences between these species and concluded that these should be considered subspecies of M. americana, and a single species of marten was recognized until 2014. In 2014 the “Revised Checklist of North American Mammals North of Mexico, 2014" (Bradley et al. 2014) elevated the status of the Pacific Marten from subspecies of American Marten to species based on recent research on marten genetics (Dawson and Cook 2012). Within Montana hybridization between Pacific and American Martens has been documented (Wright 1953, Dawson and Cook 2012, Dawson et al. 2017), although the geographic region where hybridization occurs, or its impacts on fitness and other population parameters are currently unknown.
- Literature Cited AboveLegend: View Online Publication
- Bradley, R.D., L.K. Ammerman, R.J. Baker, L.C. Bradley, J.A. Cook, R.C. Dowler, C. Jones, D.J. Schmidly, F.B. Stangl, R.A. Van Den Bussche, and B. Wursig. 2014. Revised Checklist of North American Mammals North of Mexico, 2014.
- Burnett, G.W. 1981. Movements and habitat use of American marten in Glacier National Park, Montana. M.S. thesis. Univ. Mont., Missoula. 130 pp.
- Dawson, N. and J. Cook. 2012. Behind the Genes. pp. 23-38 In Keith B. Aubry, William J. Zielinski, Martin G. Raphael, Gilbert Proulx, Steven W. Buskirk (eds). Diversification of North American Martens (Martes americana and M. caurina ): A New Synthesis. Cornell University Press. Ithaca, NY. 577 p.
- Dawson, N., J. Colella, M. Small, K. Stone, S. Talbot, and J. Cook. 2017. Historical biogeography sets the foundation for contemporary conservation of martens (genus Martes) in northwestern North America. Journal of Mammalogy. 98(3):715-730.
- Foresman, K.R. 2012. Mammals of Montana. Second edition. Mountain Press Publishing, Missoula, Montana. 429 pp.
- O'Neil, T.A. 1980. Pine marten maternal den observations. The Murrelet 61(3):102-103.
- Wright, P.L. 1953. Intergradation between Martes americana and Martes caurina in western Montana. Journal of Mammalogy 34:74-86.
- Additional ReferencesLegend: View Online Publication
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- Adelman, E.B. 1979. A survey of the nongame mammals in the Upper Rattlesnake Creek drainage of western Montana. M.S. thesis. University of Montana, Missoula. 129 pp.
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- Bennett, L.A. 1984. Marten ecology and habitat management in the Central Rocky Mountains. Colorado Coop Wildlife Res. Unit.
- Berg, W. E. 1982. Reintroduction of fisher, pine marten, and river otter. Pages 159-173 in G. C. Sanderson, editor. Midwest furbearer management. Proc. Symp. 43rd Midwest Fishand Widlife Conference, Wichita, Kansas.
- Burnett, G. W. 1980. Ecological study of American pine marten. Pp. 43-44 in K. L. McArthur ed., 1979 Annual Research Summary, Unpubl. Rep., USDI National Park Service, Glacier National Park, MT. 54 pp.
- Burnett, G. W. 1981. Movements and habitat use of American marten in Glacier National Park, Montana. M.S. thesis, University of Montana, Missoula. 130 pp.
- Buskirk, S. W. 1992. Conserving circumboreal forests for martens and fishers. Cons. Biol. 6:318-320.
- Buskirk, S.W., S.C. Forrest, and M.G. Raphael. 1989. Winter resting site ecology of marten in the central Rocky Mountains. J. Wildl. Manage. 53: 191-196.
- Chapman, J.A., and G.A. Feldhamer. 1982. Wild mammals of North America: biology, management, and economics. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland.
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- Coffin, K. 1992. The distribution of marten prey species in southwest Montana. P. 67 in G. L. Dusek, comp., Proc. Montana Chap., The Wildl. Soc., Whitefish.
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- Cross, James, and Richard P. Weckwerth, 1977, Upland Game Bird (and Fur Survey) Inventory. Wildlife Investigations, Region One. W-130-R-8, Job No. II-1, July 1, 1976 - June 30, 1977.
- Cross, James, and Richard P. Weckwerth, 1978, Upland Game Bird (and Fur Survey) Inventory. Wildlife Investigations, Region One. W-130-R-9, Job No. II-1, July 1, 1977 - June 30, 1978.
- Cross, James, and Richard P. Weckwerth, 1982, Upland Game Bird (and Fur Survey) Inventory. Wildlife Investigations, Region One. W-130-R-13, Job No. II-1, July 1, 1981 - June 30, 1982.
- Cross, James, and Richard P. Weckwerth, 1983, Upland Game Bird (and Fur Survey) Inventory. Wildlife Investigations, Region One. W-130-R-14, Job No. II-1, July 1, 1982 - June 30, 1983.
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- Fager, C. 1991. Harvest dynamics for marten in southwest Montana. In K. Aune, comp., Proc. Montana Chap., The Wildl. Soc., Bozeman.
- Fager, C.W. 1991. Harvest dynamics and winter habitat use of the pine marten in southwest Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 73 p.
- Flathead National Forest. U.S. Forest Service., 1993, Wildlife landscape evaluation, Swan Valley. Draft Report.
- Foresman, K.R. 2001. The wild mammals of Montana. American Society of Mammalogists, Special Publication Number 12. Lawrence, KS. 278 pp.
- Frisina, M., K. AU, K. Aune and H. Hash. 1991. Montana's pine marten management program. Pine Marten Symposium, University of Wyoming, Laramie. (Abstract)
- Greer, K. R. 1955. Mink age and sex ratios. Montana Fish and Game Dept. P-R Quarterly Rep. April-June: 148-170.
- Hagmeier, E. M. 1956. Distribution of marten and fisher in North America. Can. Field-Nat. 70:149-168.
- Hawley, V. D. 1955. Ecology of the marten in Glacier National Park. M.S. thesis, University of Montana, Missoula. 131 pp.
- Hawley, V. D. 1955. The ecology of the marten in Glacier National Park. M.S. thesis. University of Montana, Missoula. 131 pp.
- Hawley, V. D. 1959. Marten ecology. Montana Fish and Game Dept. P-R Compl. Rep., Proj. W-49-R-7:68-73.
- Hawley, V. D. 1960. Marten population studies. Montana Fish and Game Department P-R Job Compl. Rep. Proj. W-49-R-8:43-55.
- Hawley, V. D. and F. S. Newby. 1957. Marten home ranges and population fluctuctions. J. Mammal. 38(2):174-184.
- Hawley, Vernon D. 1959. Marten Population Studies, Project No. W-49-R-8, Job No. II-G.
- Hoffmann, R.S. and D.L. Pattie. 1968. A guide to Montana mammals: identification, habitat, distribution, and abundance. Missoula, MT: University of Montana. 133 p.
- Jonkel, C. J. 1959. An ecological and physiological study of pine marten. M.S. thesis. Montana State Univ., Missoula. 81 pp.
- Jonkel, C. J. 1963. Sexual maturity and implantation of blastocysts in the wild pine marten. Journal of Wildlife Management 27(1):93-98.
- Koehler, G.M. and M.G. Hornocker. 1977. Fire effects on marten habitat in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness. J. Wildl. Manage. 41(3):500-505.
- Koehler, G.M., J.A. Blakesley, and T.W. Koehler. 1990. Marten use of successional forest stages during winter in north-central Washington. NW.Nat. 71:1-4.
- Kujala, Q. 1992. Habitat selection by radio-collared marten in southwest Montana. P. 66 in G. L. Dusek, comp., Proc. Montana Chap., The Wildl. Soc., Whitefish.
- Kujala, Q.J. 1993. Winter habitat selection and population status of pine marten in southwest Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 58 p.
- Kujala, Quentin J., 1993, Winter habitat selection and population status of pine marten in southwest Montana. W-100-R-4-6, V, FB-1, Sub-project no. 1, 2, Job no. 3. Statewide Wildlife Program. Furbearers and Predators. Furbearers. Management Surveys and iIvestigations, Research and Technical Services. Pine marten populations and habitat relationships in southwest Montana. June 16, 1993.
- Maj, M., and E. O. Garten. 1994. Fisher, lynx, wolverine: Summary of distribution information. Pp. 169-175. IN: Ruggiero, L. F., K. B. Aubry, S. W. Buskirk, L. J. Lyon, amd W. J. Zielinski (eds.), The scientific basis for conserving forest carnivores, American marten, fisher, lynx, and wolverine in the western United States. U.S.D.A, Forest Serv. Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Exper. Stat. Gen. Tech. Report RM-254. 184 pp.
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- Montana Dept. of Fish, Wildlife & Parks, 1985, Upland Game Bird and Furbearer Survey and Inventory. Wildlife Investigations, Region One. W-130-R-16, Job No. II-1, July 1, 1984 - June 30, 1985.
- Montana Dept. of Fish, Wildlife & Parks, 1986, Upland Game Bird and Furbearer Survey and Inventory. Wildlife Investigations, Region One. W-130-R-17, Job No. II-1, July 1, 1985 - June 30, 1986.
- Montana Dept. of Fish, Wildlife & Parks, 1987, Upland Game Bird and Furbearer Survey and Inventory. Wildlife Investigations, Region One. W-130-R-18, Job No. II-1, July 1, 1986 - June 30, 1987.
- Newby, F. E. 1952. Marten in Montana. Montana Wildl. Autumn.
- Newby, F. E. 1955. Marten ecology. Montana Fish and Game Dept. P-R Job Compl. Rep. Proj. W-49-R-4, VI(l and 2).
- Newby, F. E. 1958. Marten population status. Montana Fish and Game Dept. P-R Job Compl. Rep. Proj. W-49-R-7:56-67.
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- Newby, F. E., R. Weckwerth and V. Hawley. 1956. Marten ecology. Montana Fish and Game Dept. P-R Job Compl. Rep. Proj. W-49R- 5, Job II-I.
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- Newby, Fletcher E. and Hawley, Vernon D. 1956. Marten Population Status, Project No. W-49-R-5, Job No. II-G.
- Oechsli, L.M. 2000. Ex-urban development in the Rocky Mountain West: consequences for native vegetation, wildlife diversity, and land-use planning in Big Sky, Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Montana State University, Bozeman. 73 p.
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