Resting Habitat Selection by Fishers in California

  • Zielinski W
  • Truex R
  • Schmidt G
 et al. 
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Abstract

We studied the resting habitat ecology of fishers (Martes pennanti) in 2 disjunct populations in California, USA: the northwestern coastal mountains (hereafter, Coastal) and the southern Sierra Nevada (hereafter, Sierra). We described resting structures and compared features surrounding resting structures (the resting site) with those at randomly selected sites that also were centered on a large structure. We developed Resource Selection Functions (RSFs) using logistic regression to model selection of resting sites within home ranges, and we evaluated alternative models using an information-theoretic approach. Forty-five fishers were radiomarked, resulting in 599 resting locations. Standing trees (live and dead) were the most common resting structures, with California black oak (Quercus kelloggii) and Douglas-fir (Psuedotsuga menziesii) the most frequent species in the Sierra and Coastal study areas, respectively. Resting structures were among the largest diameter trees available, averaging 117.3 ± 45.2 (mean ± SE) cm for live conifers, 119.8 ± 45.3 for conifer snags, and 69.0 ± 24.7 for hardwoods. Females used cavity structures more often than males, while males used platform structures significantly more than females. The diversity of types and sizes of rest structures used by males suggested that males were less selective than females. In the Sierra study area, where surface water was less common, we found almost twice as many resting sites as random points within 100 m of water. Multivariate regression analysis resulted in the selection of RSFs for 4 subsets of the data: all individuals, Sierra only, Coastal only, and females only. The top model for the combined analysis indicated that fishers in California select sites for resting with a combination of dense canopies, large maximum tree sizes, and steep slopes. In the Sierra study area, the presence of nearby water and the contribution of hardwoods were more important model parameters than in the Coastal area, where the presence of large conifer snags was an important predictor. Based on our results, managers can maintain resting habitat for fishers by favoring the retention of large trees and the recruitment of trees that achieve the largest sizes. Maintaining dense canopy in the vicinity of large trees, especially if structural diversity is increased, will improve the attractiveness of these large trees to fishers.

Author-supplied keywords

  • aubry
  • california
  • extirpated from extensive
  • fisher
  • gibilisco 1994
  • habitat selection
  • martes pennanti
  • powell and zielinski 1994
  • range in the pacific
  • regions of its historical
  • resting sites
  • states
  • the fisher has been

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Authors

  • William J Zielinski

  • Richard L Truex

  • Gregory A Schmidt

  • Fredrick V Schlexer

  • Kristin N Schmidt

  • Reginald H Barrett

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