Arts and Humanities | Life Sciences
Doster, Macy; Keenlance, Paul; and Jacquot, Joseph, "A Comparison of American Marten Habitat Use From Data Collected Using VHF Radio Telemetry Versus GPS Telemetry" (2015). Student Summer Scholars. 149.
The American marten (Martes americana) is a small carnivorous forest mammal with a long, slender body found throughout northern North America. Our study focused on home range size and habitat use of individuals in the Manistee National Forest in Michigan's Lower Peninsula. Marten home range sizes vary from animal to animal, as population density, climate, and food availability are all factors to consider (Smith et al. 2002). Our understanding of wildlife habitat use and selection, and therefore our efforts to create or manage suitable habitat are based almost exclusively on research conducted using very high frequency (VHF)-based radio telemetry. We compared the habitat use for each animal based on conventional VHF telemetry and Global Positioning System (GPS) telemetry. The habitat type in which each point was in was used as an indication of habitat preference. VHF-based radio telemetry generally allows the researcher to locate an animal once a day up to once a week. GPS-based telemetry allows the researcher to collect locations as often as once every half an hour, but the increased frequency comes with an increased cost of roughly ten times the cost of VHF transmitters. We conducted GPS telemetry by attaching GPS transmitters, small enough to use on an American marten, to a collar. The use of GPS collars increases the frequency of locations which will likely increase accuracy in our understanding of habitat selection. We evaluated whether the inferences regarding marten habitat use vary between VHF and GPS derived data. We found that these inferences do vary, which justifies the increased cost of GPS transmitters. This astute research can be used by the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians (LRBOI), the United States Forest Service (USFS) and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) to effectively manage marten habitat in Michigan.