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Landscape-scale habitat selection by fishers translocated to the Olympic Peninsula of Washington

Forest Ecology and Management
By: , and 

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Abstract

The fisher was extirpated from much of the Pacific Northwestern United States during the mid- to late-1900s and is now proposed for federal listing as a threatened species in all or part of its west coast range. Following the translocation of 90 fishers from central British Columbia, Canada, to the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State from 2008 to 2010, we investigated the landscape-scale habitat selection of reintroduced fishers across a broad range of forest ages and disturbance histories, providing the first information on habitat relationships of newly reintroduced fishers in coastal coniferous forests in the Pacific Northwest. We developed 17 a priori models to evaluate several habitat-selection hypotheses based on premises of habitat models used to forecast habitat suitability for the reintroduced population. Further, we hypothesized that female fishers, because of their smaller body size than males, greater vulnerability to predation, and specific reproductive requirements, would be more selective than males for mid- to late-seral forest communities, where complex forest structural elements provide secure foraging, resting, and denning sites. We assessed 11 forest structure and landscape characteristics within the home range core-areas used by 19 females and 12 males and within randomly placed pseudo core areas that represented available habitats. We used case-controlled logistic regression to compare the characteristics of used and pseudo core areas and to assess selection by male and female fishers. Females were more selective of core area placement than males. Fifteen of 19 females (79%) and 5 of 12 males (42%) selected core areas within federal lands that encompassed primarily forests with an overstory of mid-sized or large trees. Male fishers exhibited only weak selection for core areas dominated by forests with an overstory of small trees, primarily on land managed for timber production or at high elevations. The amount of natural open area best distinguished the use of core areas between males and females, with females using substantially less natural open area than males. Although sex-specific selection has been suspected for fishers, we identified factors that distinguish the selection of core areas by females from those of males, information which will be valuable to managers planning reintroductions or providing suitable habitat to promote fisher recovery in the Pacific Northwest.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Landscape-scale habitat selection by fishers translocated to the Olympic Peninsula of Washington
Series title Forest Ecology and Management
Volume 369
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher Elsevier Science Pub. Co.
Contributing office(s) Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center
Description 14 p.
First page 170
Last page 183
Country United States
State Washington
Other Geospatial Olympic National Park
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N