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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 35(5)

Monitoring the small-scale distribution of sympatric European pine martens (Martes martes) and stone martens (Martes foina): a multievidence approach using faecal DNA analysis and camera-traps

Stefano Rosellini A E, Enrique Osorio B, Aritz Ruiz-González C, Ana Piñeiro A, Isabel Barja D

A Departamento de Biología, Unidad Zoología, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Campus de Cantoblanco, 28049 Madrid, Spain.
B Departamento de Zoología, Facultad de Biología, Universidad de León, Campus de Vegazana, 24271 León, Spain.
C Departamento de Zoología y Biología Celular Animal, Facultad de Farmacia, Universidad del País Vasco, C/Paseo de la Universidad 7, 01006 Vitoria, Spain.
D Departamento de Biología y Ciencias del Medio Ambiente, Facultad de Ciencias Experimentales, Universidad SEK, C/Cardenal Zúñiga 12, 40003 Segovia, Spain.
E Corresponding author. Email: stefano.rosellini@yahoo.es
 
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Abstract

The European pine marten (Martes martes) and stone marten (Martes foina) are two closely related mustelids that live sympatrically over a large area of Europe. In the northern Iberian Peninsula, the distribution ranges of both species overlap extensively. The objectives of this study were (1) to verify whether, on a small scale, both species also live sympatrically and (2) to compare camera traps and scat DNA as methods for detecting marten species. The study was conducted in a protected area (province of Ourense, north-west Spain), which covers 6700 ha. To test the sympatry hypothesis, 90 fresh faecal samples, identified as faeces of genus Martes on the basis of their morphology, were collected from June 2004 to August 2006. The specific identification of faecal samples was conducted using polymerase chain reaction–restriction fragment length polymorphism (PCR-RFLP) techniques. In addition, 20 camera-traps (916 camera-trap-nights) were in operation during the study period. Of the faecal samples collected, 88.8% were attributed to the European pine marten, while the remaining 11.2% were not amplified by PCR and thus could not be assigned. The European pine marten was identified in 57.9% of the photos of carnivores and the stone marten was not detected in any. The faecal DNA analysis and camera-trap results supported previous conclusions about habitat preferences and the distribution of the two species obtained using other methods. The two non-invasive methods that were used in this study were shown to be reliable techniques that can be employed simultaneously, because each method has advantages and disadvantages that are influenced by the size of the area inventoried, sampling effort, and cost and efficiency of the method. The data gathered using these methods provided important information on the understanding of trophic and competitive interactions between the species.

   
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