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    Author(s): John Kirkland; Katie Moriarty
    Date: 2016
    Source: Science Findings 192. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 5 p.
    Publication Series: Science Findings
    Station: Pacific Northwest Research Station
    PDF: Download Publication  (4.0 MB)


    Martens are small forest carnivores associated with dense, mature forests. These important indicators of a forest’s biodiversity are vulnerable to management activities that open the forest canopy or remove downed debris. Many fuel reduction treatment do just that: dense stands of trees are thinned to minimize fire hazard and future fire severity. Until recently, the effect of these changes to stand structure on marten behavior was unknown.

    Katie Moriarty, a research wildlife biologist with the Pacific Northwest Research Station, and colleagues recently conducted a study on martens in the Lassen National Forest. The researchers fitted martens with GPS collars and tracked their behavior to learn how the animals responded in forest stands that differed in structural complexity—variability in tree size, depth and overlap of crowns, and distance and uniformity of spacing among trees. The martens traveled several miles a day in search of food, but they avoided open areas and thinned stands (forest areas where small-diameter trees and understory have been removed), most likely because they were more vulnerable to predators in those spaces. They thrived in forests with complex canopies and connected stands, which allowed them to move more freely in search of food with less risk of predation.

    This information provides an opportunity for forest managers to create new silviculture treatments that help maintain marten populations while also reducing fire risk.

    Publication Notes

    • Visit PNW's Publication Request Page to request a hard copy of this publication.
    • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.


    Kirkland, John; Moriarty, Katie. 2016. Striving for balance: maintaining marten habitat while reducing fuels. Science Findings 192. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 5 p.


    Martens, habitat, fuels treatment, forest management.

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