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Brief Summary

    Beech marten: Brief Summary
    provided by wikipedia

    The beech marten (Martes foina), also known as the stone marten, house marten or white breasted marten, is a species of marten native to much of Europe and Central Asia, though it has established a feral population in North America. It is listed as Least Concern by the IUCN on account of its wide distribution, its large population, and its presence in a number of protected areas. It is superficially similar to the pine marten, but differs from it by its smaller size and habitat preferences. While the pine marten is a forest specialist, the beech marten is a more generalist and adaptable species, occurring in a number of open and forest habitats.

Comprehensive Description

Distribution

    Distribution
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    Martes foina occurs throughout much of Europe and central Asia. They are found as far north as Denmark, west to Spain, south into Italy, including the islands of Crete, Rhodes, and Corfu, and east to Mongolia and the Himalayas.

    A population of beech martens is now established in Wisconsin, United States, as a result of the pet trade.

    Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Introduced ); palearctic (Native )

Morphology

    Morphology
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    Beech martens range in coloration from dark brown to pale grayish brown. A white or buffy streak can be seen just below the chin running down the neck to the chest. In some southern and eastern regions this white streak is absent. Young have grey dorsal fur. Martes foina have little to no fur on the soles of the feet. The limbs are long, a bushy tail is present, and the pelt is coarser than their close relative Martes martes, pine martens. The dental formula for martens is 3/3 (incisors), 1/1 (canine), 4/4 (premolars), and 1/2 (molars) producing a total of 38 teeth. Males and females are monomorphic. Total length varies between 40 and 50 cm from head to end of body. Beech martens have longer tails than pine martens, from 22 to 30 cm in length. Total weight ranges between 1.1 and 2.3 kg. The size of Martes foina has been compared to that of a domestic cat, but with a more slender body.

    Range mass: 1.1 to 2.3 kg.

    Range length: 40 to 54 cm.

    Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry

    Sexual Dimorphism: sexes alike

Habitat

    Habitat
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    Beech martens prefer open deciduous forest and rock outcroppings in mountainous habitats. They can be found at elevations up to 4,000 m during summer months. They prefer open landscapes, being less dependent on forested habitats than other Martes species. Martes foina is frequently found living near human habitation, where they may den in buildings. Natural den sites include abandoned burrows, hollow trees, and rocky crevices.

    Range elevation: 4000 (high) m.

    Habitat Regions: temperate ; terrestrial

    Terrestrial Biomes: scrub forest ; mountains

    Other Habitat Features: urban ; suburban ; agricultural

Trophic Strategy

    Trophic Strategy
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    Martes foina is an opportunistic, omnivorous species, although animal prey are preferred. Diet varies with season and prey availability. They eat available small mammals and birds, especially nestlings and eggs. Bird eggs are eaten by making a small incision that allows the yolk to be sucked out, leaving a hollow shell. Beech martens will eat a wide variety of vertebrates and invertebrates, though, including frogs and large arthropods. During summer months seasonal berries, such as blackberries, raspberries, and elder berries are important, as well as other fruits. In some regions, vegetable matter is a major part of the summer diet. When food is scarce they will feed on carrion. Beech martens have also been known to raid chicken coops and rabbit hutches and cache excess food until it is needed, as do other mustelids.

    Animal Foods: birds; mammals; amphibians; eggs; carrion ; insects; terrestrial non-insect arthropods

    Plant Foods: fruit

    Foraging Behavior: stores or caches food

    Primary Diet: omnivore

Associations

    Associations
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    Beech martens help to control the pest population of rats and mice in central Europe. They also provide nourishment for foxes, owls, and wildcats. Martes foina have been identified as a species that may contribute to seed dispersal in forested regions. Martes foina are considered to be important dispersal vectors for fleshy-fruited plants inhabiting the forests of Central Europe. The amount of seeds dispersed by stone martens has been determined by counting the seeds per scat, and seed dispersal as related to plant abundance in specific areas. Almost all endozoochorous seeds were from fleshy-fruited species found in M. foina range.

    A study conducted on M. foina and helminths found that a majority of adult beech martens were infected by helminths. One cestode (Taenia martis) and three nematode (Molineus patens, Capillaria sp. and Angio strongylus sp.) species were identified.

    Ecosystem Impact: disperses seeds; biodegradation

    Associations
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    Little is known about defensive behaviors in M. foina. It is possible that they display a defense similar to their close relative Martes martes, where individuals place their head between their hind legs and arches their back when threatened. They are cryptically colored and generally secretive, making them difficult to detect. Beech martens are also agile in the trees and take refuge both in trees and burrows to escape threats. Like most mustelids, beech martens are aggressive and may successfully defend themselves against predators larger than themselves. They are mainly preyed on by large birds of prey, such as Eurasian eagle owls and larger predators, such as foxes.

    Known Predators:

    • red foxes (Vulpes vulpes)
    • Eurasian eagle-owls (Bubo bubo)

    Anti-predator Adaptations: cryptic

Behavior

    Behavior
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    Stone martens are solitary mammals that communicate primarily by using olfactory cues. Territorial boundaries and reproductive readiness are communicated in this way through scent marking. During the mating season their cries are audible. They are territorial and avoid contact with others of their kind. Martes foina individuals have excellent senses of sight and smell. Both of these senses are useful in darkness.

    Communication Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

    Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

Life Expectancy

    Lifespan, longevity, and ageing
    provided by AnAge articles
    Maximum longevity: 18.2 years (captivity) Observations: The total gestation period, with implantation delay, varies between 76 and 289 days.
    Life Expectancy
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    Average longevity of M. foina in its natural habitat is 3 years. The maximum life expectancy in the wild is 10 years. In captivity, this species may live upwards of 18 years.

    Average lifespan
    Status: wild:
    10 years.

    Average lifespan
    Status: captivity:
    18 years.

    Average lifespan
    Status: wild:
    3 years.

    Average lifespan
    Status: captivity:
    18.1 years.

Reproduction

    Reproduction
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    Beech martens are typically solitary animals, except during the mating season. Male territories overlap those of females, providing access to several potential mates. Males have a home range of about 12 to 211 ha. The range is largest in the summer mating season. Beech marten males will attempt to mate with females within their territory. During the month of July male testes reach their maximum size. Copulation begins midsummer (June through August). Cries of mating M. foina can be distinctly heard throughout the mating season and mainly at night. Olfaction plays an important role in locating prospective mates as well. When first approached by a male, females respond aggressively. Males calmly vocalize their intent with subtle cooing. A layer of subcutaneous fat on the dorsal surface of the neck is used as a place where males can grasp females during copulation, which may last up to an hour. After copulation, females groom themselves.

    Mating System: polygynandrous (promiscuous)

    Copulation of M. foina may occur midsummer, but implantation does not occur until early in the following spring. The blastocyst begins to develop in February. Total pregnancy time is 230 to 275 days, but development time of the embryo from time of implantation (true gestation) is approximately a month. Females give birth to 3 to 4 blind, hairless young. Weaning of the young occurs mid May, immediately before mating season begins. At 15 to 27 months young reach sexual maturity, with some females becoming pregnant in the year following their birth.

    Breeding interval: Martes foina breed once yearly.

    Breeding season: Mating occurs in midsummer (June to August).

    Range number of offspring: 1 to 4.

    Average number of offspring: 2-3.

    Average gestation period: 230-275 days.

    Average weaning age: 2 months.

    Average time to independence: 1 years.

    Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 15 to 27 months.

    Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 15 to 27 months.

    Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; viviparous ; delayed implantation

    Average gestation period: 30 days.

    Average number of offspring: 3.5.

    Females care exclusively for their young, which are nursed and protected in the den for a period of time. Young are born naked, and with their ears and eyes closed. After weaning, which occurs at about two months, young learn hunting techniques from their mother. At the end of the summer they are independent.

    Parental Investment: no parental involvement; altricial ; female parental care ; pre-fertilization (Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); extended period of juvenile learning

Conservation Status

    Conservation Status
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    One unidentified form of Martes foina that once occupied the island of Ibiza in the Balearic Islands was hunted to extinction in the 1960’s. Other beech marten populations are not considered threatened.

    US Federal List: no special status

    CITES: no special status

    IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

Benefits

    Benefits
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    In urban areas M. foina can be a pest. They often den in attics, barns, and automobile engine compartments, damaging hoses and wires. Beech martens sometimes raid chicken coops and rabbit hutches.

    Negative Impacts: household pest

    Benefits
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    Beech martens benefit farmers by helping to control rodent populations around farms. Pelts of these animals also have some value, though less than that of their relative Martes martes. Beech martens are traded as pets and live fairly long in captivity.

    Positive Impacts: pet trade ; body parts are source of valuable material; controls pest population

Other Articles

    Untitled
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    Martes foina is immune to bee and wasp stings, a defense that allows it to get to honey without injury. Beech martens seem to thrive near human habitation.