Martes americana - (Turton, 1806)
American Marten
Other English Common Names: American marten
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Martes americana (Turton, 1806) (TSN 180559)
French Common Names: martre d'Amérique
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.887112
Element Code: AMAJF01040
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Mammals - Carnivores
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Mammalia Carnivora Mustelidae Martes
Genus Size: C - Small genus (6-20 species)
Check this box to expand all report sections:
Concept Reference
Concept Reference: Dawson, N. G., and J. A. Cook. 2012. Behind the genes: diversification of North American martens (Martes americana and M. caurina). Pages 23-38 in K. B. Aubry, W. J. Zielinski, M. G. Raphael, and S. W. Buskirk, editors. Biology and conservation of martens, sables, and fishers: a new synthesis. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York.
Concept Reference Code: A12DAW01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Martes americana
Taxonomic Comments: Before 1953, two species of martens, Martes americana and M. caurina, were recognized in North America. Subsequently, based on morphometric data (Wright 1953), these two polytypic forms were found to "intergrade" in Montana, and they were synonymized under Martes americana, which came to be considered as comprising two subspecies groups (americana and caurina). However, based on genetic data, Hicks and Carr (1997) and McGowan et al. (1999) suggested that the caurina and americana groups may indeed represent two distinct species. Phylogenetic studies based on molecular data identified 2 reciprocally monophyletic clades among North American martens (e.g., Stone and Cook 2002, Small et al. 2003). Divergence occurred in isolated eastern and western glacial refugia during the late Pleistocene (Stone and Cook 2002). Subsequent studies suggest that M. caurina may have persisted in multiple refugia (e.g., Slauson et al. 2009). Despite the molecular data, Wozencraft (in Wilson and Reeder 2005) followed Wright (1953) and Hall (1981) and regarded caurina and americana as subspecies groups rather than as species.

Dawson and Cook (2012) reviewed all previous studies of morphological and molecular variation in North American martens, including several not cited in the preceding paragraph. They also looked at additional, previously unpublished genetic data. Dawson and Cook determined that the conclusions from the previous morphological study by Wright (1953) were based on inadequate sampling and outdated taxonomic concepts. Overall, the authors concluded that the pattern of molecular and morphological variation in North American martens supports the recognition of M. americana and M. caurina as distinct species with independent evolutionary histories. Regarding subspecies, they concluded that most of the nominal taxa in eastern North America are not supported by existing data (but see McGowan et al. 1999), whereas the subspecific classification in the west (i.e., within M. caurina) "more accurately reflects patterns of underlying geographic variation resulting from isolation in disjunct forest refugia during the last glaciation (Slauson et al. 2009)."
Conservation Status

NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 04Apr2016
Global Status Last Changed: 26Sep1997
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Reasons: Large range in northern North America, timber harvest and excessive harvest led to extirpations in the southern part of the range; natural reestablishment and reintroduction programs (aided by reforestation and trapping restrictions) have contributed to a moderate comeback in some areas; adequate population data are unavailable for much of the range, but the total population size is at least several hundred thousand and the species can be regarded as secure.
Nation: United States
National Status: N5 (05Sep1996)
Nation: Canada
National Status: N5 (11Oct2015)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
United States Alaska (S5), District of Columbia (SX), Idaho (S5), Illinois (SX), Maine (S5), Maryland (SX), Massachusetts (SX), Michigan (S3), Minnesota (S4S5), Montana (S4), Navajo Nation (SNR), New Hampshire (S2), New York (S3), North Dakota (SX), Ohio (SX), Pennsylvania (SX), Vermont (S1), Wisconsin (S2), Wyoming (SNR)
Canada Alberta (S5), British Columbia (S4S5), Labrador (S5), Manitoba (S5), New Brunswick (S4), Newfoundland Island (S1), Northwest Territories (S5), Nova Scotia (S1), Nunavut (SU), Ontario (S5), Prince Edward Island (SX), Quebec (S5), Saskatchewan (S5), Yukon Territory (S5)

Other Statuses

Implied Status under the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC):PS:T
Comments on COSEWIC: The Newfoundland population of of M. americana atrata is designated Threatened (see M. americana pop. 1).
IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: >2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: This species occurs throughout most of Canada and Alaska, and its range extends southward through the Great Lakes region and northern New England; most marten populations in the western contiguous United States and southwestern Canada are now included in Martes caurina; Alaska, British Columbia, Idaho, and Montana have both species (Dawson and Cook 2012). See map in Clark et al. (1987) for comparison of present and historical range.

Number of Occurrences: 81 - 300
Number of Occurrences Comments: The number of occurrences has not been determined using standardized criteria, btut surely there are hundreds of fairly distinct populations.

Population Size: 100,000 to >1,000,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Total population size is unknown but probably is at least several hundred thousand; for example, the harvest in North America in the 1983-1984 trapping season was nearly 190,000 (Novak et al. 1987). The Newfoundland population was estimated at less than 500 in early the 1990s, down from 630-875 in the early 1980s (Snyder, 1986 COSEWIC report).

Overall Threat Impact Comments: Past extensive logging and trapping for pelts led to extirpation in some areas. Martens are susceptible to overharvest when food supplies are low (Thompson and Colgan 1987). Loss/degradation of habitat due to timber harvest remains a threat in some areas.

Short-term Trend: Relatively Stable (<=10% change)
Short-term Trend Comments: Adequate trend data are unavailable for much of the range. Natural reestablishment and reintroduction programs have contributed to a moderate comeback in some areas of the northern U.S. (northern New England, Great Lakes region) (e.g., see Nowak 1991, Evers 1992).

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Global Range: (>2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)) This species occurs throughout most of Canada and Alaska, and its range extends southward through the Great Lakes region and northern New England; most marten populations in the western contiguous United States and southwestern Canada are now included in Martes caurina; Alaska, British Columbia, Idaho, and Montana have both species (Dawson and Cook 2012). See map in Clark et al. (1987) for comparison of present and historical range.

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces
Color legend for Distribution Map
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AK, DCextirpated, ID, ILextirpated, MAextirpated, MDextirpated, ME, MI, MN, MT, NDextirpated, NH, NN, NY, OHextirpated, PAextirpated, VT, WI, WY
Canada AB, BC, LB, MB, NB, NF, NS, NT, NU, ON, PEextirpated, QC, SK, YT

Range Map
No map available.

U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
ID Adams (16003), Blaine (16013), Boise (16015), Bonner (16017), Bonneville (16019), Boundary (16021), Camas (16025), Clark (16033), Clearwater (16035), Custer (16037), Elmore (16039), Franklin (16041), Fremont (16043), Idaho (16049), Kootenai (16055), Lemhi (16059), Lewis (16061), Shoshone (16079), Valley (16085)
NH Carroll (33003), Coos (33007), Grafton (33009)
PA Sullivan (42113)*, Wayne (42127)*
VT Bennington (50003), Caledonia (50005), Essex (50009), Rutland (50021)*, Windham (50025)*
WI Ashland (55003), Bayfield (55007), Douglas (55031), Florence (55037), Forest (55041), Iron (55051), Oneida (55085), Price (55099), Sawyer (55113), Vilas (55125)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
01 Upper Androscoggin (01040001)+, Lower Androscoggin (01040002)+, Saco (01060002)+, Upper Connecticut (01080101)+, Passumpsic (01080102)+, Waits (01080103)+, West (01080107)+*, Deerfield (01080203)+
02 Hudson-Hoosic (02020003)+, Lackawaxen (02040103)+*, Lower West Branch Susquehanna (02050206)+*
04 Beartrap-Nemadji (04010301)+, Bad-Montreal (04010302)+, Black-Presque Isle (04020101)+, Peshtigo (04030105)+, Brule (04030106)+, Menominee (04030108)+, Wolf (04030202)+, Otter Creek (04150402)+*
07 Upper St. Croix (07030001)+, Namekagon (07030002)+, Upper Chippewa (07050001)+, Flambeau (07050002)+, Upper Wisconsin (07070001)+
16 Middle Bear (16010202)+, Little Bear-Logan (16010203)+
17 Lower Kootenai (17010104)+, Moyie (17010105)+, Lower Clark Fork (17010213)+, Pend Oreille Lake (17010214)+, Priest (17010215)+, South Fork Coeur D'alene (17010302)+, Coeur D'alene Lake (17010303)+, St. Joe (17010304)+, Palisades (17040104)+, Upper Henrys (17040202)+, Willow (17040205)+, Beaver-Camas (17040214)+, Big Wood (17040219)+, North and Middle Forks Boise (17050111)+, South Fork Boise (17050113)+, South Fork Payette (17050120)+*, North Fork Payette (17050123)+, Upper Salmon (17060201)+, Middle Salmon-Panther (17060203)+, Lemhi (17060204)+, Upper Middle Fork Salmon (17060205)+, Middle Salmon-Chamberlain (17060207)+, South Fork Salmon (17060208)+, Little Salmon (17060210)+, Lower Selway (17060302)+*, Lochsa (17060303)+, South Fork Clearwater (17060305)+*, Clearwater (17060306)+, Upper North Fork Clearwater (17060307)+, Lower North Fork Clearwater (17060308)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
Basic Description: A medium-sized carnivorous mammal (marten).
Reproduction Comments: Breeds in summer. Implantation is delayed; litter of 1-5 (average 3-4, less when food scarce) is born in spring. Young arre weaned in about 6 weeks, apparently independent by August in Maine (Wynne and Sherburne 1984). Males are sexually mature in 1 year, females in 1-2 years.
Ecology Comments: Basically solitary. Densities of about l-2 per sq km have been recorded in early fall.
Non-Migrant: Y
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Mobility and Migration Comments: Home range size is quite variable, usually averages less than 10 sq km, may be larger when food scarce; male range usually is larger than female range; see Slough (1989) for detailed summary of home ranges in several areas; see also Phillips et al. (1998). Male home range may overlap those of multiple females.

Young may disperse 25 miles or more.

Palustrine Habitat(s): FORESTED WETLAND, Riparian
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Forest - Conifer, Forest - Hardwood, Forest - Mixed, Forest Edge, Woodland - Conifer, Woodland - Hardwood, Woodland - Mixed
Special Habitat Factors: Fallen log/debris, Standing snag/hollow tree
Habitat Comments: This species usually occurs in dense deciduous, mixed, or (especially) coniferous upland and lowland forest. In Newfoundland, it prefers undisturbed mature coniferous or mixed forest. When inactive, martens occupy holes in dead or live trees or stumps, abandoned squirrel nests, conifer crowns, rock piles, burrows, snow cavities, etc.; they use mainly subnivean sites, often associated with coarse woody debris, in winter. Young are born in a den, usually in a hollow tree, sometimes in rock den.

Adult Food Habits: Carnivore
Immature Food Habits: Carnivore
Food Comments: Diet consists mainly of small mammals, birds, insects, carrion. Berries and other vegetable matter are eaten in season. Foraging occurs in trees and on the ground (mostly). Martens track prey, ambush, rob nests, excavate burrows, and use hunting perches (Spencer and Zielinski 1983). They also exploit subnivean prey (voles, squirrels, etc.).
Adult Phenology: Circadian
Immature Phenology: Circadian
Phenology Comments: Activity may peak at dusk and dawn in summer; frequently observed by day in winter.
Length: 68 centimeters
Weight: 1568 grams
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
Management Summary
Stewardship Overview: Reintroduction by quick-release method resulted in greater dispersal than did gentle-release method (Davis 1983). Females with dependent young were more likely to remain in release area than were single adults (Hobson et al. 1989). For successful translocation, Slough (1989) recommended release of large numbers throughout the target area during October-January at temperatures above -20 C.
Biological Research Needs: Better information on current abundance and population trend is needed throughout most of the range.
Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
Population/Occurrence Viability
U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 25Jun2013
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Hammerson, G.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 14Oct1994
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Hammerson, G.

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Citation for data on website including State Distribution, Watershed, and Reptile Range maps:
NatureServe. 2017. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. Available (Accessed:

Citation for Bird Range Maps of North America:
Ridgely, R.S., T.F. Allnutt, T. Brooks, D.K. McNicol, D.W. Mehlman, B.E. Young, and J.R. Zook. 2003. Digital Distribution Maps of the Birds of the Western Hemisphere, version 1.0. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Acknowledgement Statement for Bird Range Maps of North America:
"Data provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Robert Ridgely, James Zook, The Nature Conservancy - Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International - CABS, World Wildlife Fund - US, and Environment Canada - WILDSPACE."

Citation for Mammal Range Maps of North America:
Patterson, B.D., G. Ceballos, W. Sechrest, M.F. Tognelli, T. Brooks, L. Luna, P. Ortega, I. Salazar, and B.E. Young. 2003. Digital Distribution Maps of the Mammals of the Western Hemisphere, version 1.0. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Acknowledgement Statement for Mammal Range Maps of North America:
"Data provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Bruce Patterson, Wes Sechrest, Marcelo Tognelli, Gerardo Ceballos, The Nature Conservancy-Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International-CABS, World Wildlife Fund-US, and Environment Canada-WILDSPACE."

Citation for Amphibian Range Maps of the Western Hemisphere:
IUCN, Conservation International, and NatureServe. 2004. Global Amphibian Assessment. IUCN, Conservation International, and NatureServe, Washington, DC and Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Acknowledgement Statement for Amphibian Range Maps of the Western Hemisphere:
"Data developed as part of the Global Amphibian Assessment and provided by IUCN-World Conservation Union, Conservation International and NatureServe."

NOTE: Full metadata for the Bird Range Maps of North America is available at:

Full metadata for the Mammal Range Maps of North America is available at:

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