Date of Award

12-2013

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Biology (M.S.)

Department

Biology

Abstract

The American marten (Martes americana), which was extirpated from Michigan by 1939 due to logging and trapping, has cultural significance as a clan animal to Great Lakes Native American Tribes and ecological significance as a forest health indicator. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (SBD) is considering reintroduction, but several factors must first be considered in assessing the habitat suitability. The goals of this study were to 1) enhance an existing habitat suitability model by including additional relevant variables, 2) conduct a spatial analysis of the habitat within the study area using a metapopulation perspective and 3) incorporate climate change predictions to determine future habitat availability for marten. Coarse woody debris measurements (CWD) were collected in areas of known marten occurrence, along with Michigan Forest Inventory and Analysis data in order to validate an existing Penrose habitat suitability model. The Corridor Designer toolset was utilized in ArcMap to identify patches of most suitable habitat throughout the study area. Future habitat suitability was derived from a Forest Service model, which predicted distribution of tree species in the Eastern United States by 2100 at high and low CO2emissions scenarios. I found that additional variables did not enhance the original Penrose Distance model. Corridor Designer indicated large

patches of suitable habitat currently present in Manistee National Forest (MNF) with smaller patches between SLBE and MNF. Climate change predictions indicate that most conifer species in Michigan’s Northern Lower Peninsula will exhibit a loss of suitable habitat, except the eastern redcedar (Juniperus virginiana), which could increase in importance value (IV) by 450% at most, based on the HI scenario. Oak species such as black oak (Quercus velutina) and white oak (Quercus alba) could exhibit large increases in IV of 168% and 93%. The combination of these changes could lead to an overall increase in mixed forest stands of 38%. Therefore, habitat is expected to change, but not extensively enough to hinder marten habitat use. I recommend that SBD reintroduce marten in cooperation with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and local Native American tribes into the Pere Marquette State Forest adjacent to their boundary.

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