Historical biogeography sets the foundation for contemporary conservation of martens (genus Martes) in northwestern North America

Natalie G. Dawson, Jocelyn P. Colella, Maureen P. Small, Karen D. Stone, Sandra L. Talbot & Joseph A. Cook

Effective conservation of insular populations requires careful consideration of biogeography, including colonization histories and patterns of endemism. Across the Pacific Northwest of North America, Pacific martens (Martes caurina) and American pine martens (Martes americana) are parapatric sister species with distinctive postglacial histories. Using mitochondrial DNA and 12 nuclear microsatellite loci, we examine processes of island colonization and anthropogenic introductions across 25 populations of martens. Along the North Pacific Coast (NPC), M. caurina is now found on only 2 islands, whereas M. americana occurs on mainland Alaska and British Columbia and multiple associated islands. Island populations of M. caurina have a longer history of isolation reflected in divergent haplotypes, private microsatellite alleles, and relatively low within-population diversity. In contrast, insular M. americanahave lower among-population divergence and higher metrics of within-population diversity. On some NPC islands, introductions of M. americana may be related to decline of M. caurina. Long-term persistence of these species likely has been influenced by anthropogenic manipulations, including wildlife translocations and industrial-scale deforestation, yet, the distinctive histories of these martens have not been incorporated into natural resource policies.

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Natalie G. Dawson, Jocelyn P. Colella, Maureen P. Small, Karen D. Stone, Sandra L. Talbot & Joseph A. 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.