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Title: Resting structures and resting habitat of fishers in the southern Sierra Nevada, California

Author: Purcell, Kathryn L.; Mazzoni, Amie K.; Mori, Sylvia R.; Boroski, Brian B.;

Date: 2009

Source: Forest Ecology and Management 258(12): 2696-2706

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: The fisher (Martes pennanti) is a forest mustelid endemic to North America that has experienced range reductions in Pacific states that have led to their listing under the Endangered Species Act as warranted but precluded by higher priorities. The viability of the southern Sierra Nevada fisher population is of particular concern due to its reduced historical range, isolated nature, and low genetic variability. We located resting structures of radio-collared fishers in the southern Sierra Nevada and compared resting and available habitat to examine selection for specific features of resting sites. Resting structures provide protection from predators and unfavorable weather and are believed to be the most limiting habitat element across fisher home ranges. Resting structures were found primarily in live trees (76%) and snags (15%). Trees used by fishers for resting were among the largest available and frequently had mistletoe infestations. Ponderosa pines (Pinus ponderosa) were used more often than expected and incense cedars (Calocedrus decurrens) less than expected. Snags were also large and in fairly advanced stages of decay. Habitat at fisher resting sites had higher canopy cover, greater basal area of snags and hardwoods, and smaller and more variable tree sizes compared to random sites. Resting sites were also found on steeper slopes and closer to streams. Canopy cover was consistently the most important variable distinguishing rest and random sites. In western North America, fishers are generally associated with late-successional forests, but changes in these forests due to logging and fire suppression have resulted in a transition to forest stands characterized by fewer large trees and more small stems. These conditions are consistent with our finding that the large rest structures were surrounded by smaller than average trees. Management practices that support the growth and retention of greater numbers of large trees and snags, while maintaining a minimum of 61% (based on moosehorn) or 56% (generated via Forest Vegetation Simulator) canopy cover and a complex horizontal and vertical forest structure, can improve and provide for future fisher habitat.

Keywords: Fisher, Habitat selection, Martes pennanti, Resting habitat, Resting structures, Sierra Nevada

Publication Notes:

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Purcell, Kathryn L.; Mazzoni, Amie K.; Mori, Sylvia R.; Boroski, Brian B. 2009. Resting structures and resting habitat of fishers in the southern Sierra Nevada, California. Forest Ecology and Management 258(12): 2696-2706.


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