Distribution of pine martens in Scotland as determined by field survey
The results suggest that pine marten have now recolonised some of the northem and western parts of Grampian, Tayside, Central and Strathclyde regions, and are thus no longer confined to the Highlands. To the south, marten have become established on the sides of Loch Awe, in Glen Dochart, and possibly Strathyre. In central Scotland the spread eastwards extends to the glens of Loch Tay, Tummel and Rannoch.
However the spread into the north east has not been so extensive, and the continuous distribution is more similar to that found in 1982 by the Vincent Wildlife Trust marten survey. There was evidence of two pockets of established marten populations further east, one in Strath Avon and one between the Findhoru and Lossie rivers. The expansion into forests near Aviemore may also not be contiguous with other marten populations.
From the 12 martens released into Galloway Forest park in Southem Scotland between 1980 and 1981 a small, separate but currently viable population appears to exist in Glentrool forest.
The pattern of colonisation was different in southern and central Scotland in comparison to the north-east. Scat density was used as a basis on which to distinguish between areas holding established populations of marten and areas with transient or dispersing marten. Both in terms of the dispersal distance covered since 1982 and the number of survey areas with transient as opposed to established marten scat counts, marten appear to be having difficulty getting established east and south-east of Inverness. Habitat or predator control differences are suggested in explanation of these different patterns of colonisation.
Calculations based on the amount of woodland contained within the 1982 marten population distribution, in comparison to the 1994 distribution suggest that the marten population has approximately doubled in twelve years (from estimates of 1200 to 2600 adult martens).
1) Map the expansion of the marten population, south and east from the limit of pine marten distribution previously established in 1982, by searching for marten scats in suitable areas and at suitable intervals.
2) Establish the density of marten scat expected for areas known to have resident breeding marten.
3) Using the above information, distinguish between areas holding resident/breeding marten populations and areas into which marten are moving but are not yet established.
4) Compare the 1994 marten distribution with the 1982 distribution to estimate the rate of recolonisation.
From starting points, determined by estimating the breeding pine marten distribution in 1982 from the VWT survey, search areas were chosen at approximately 20 km intervals within suitable habitat. The search areas were approximately 4 - 5 km2, representative of the average area of a breeding marten territory within contiguous forest cover. If woodland was fragmented into blocks of less than 5 km2 , the search area was extended to up to 15 km2 to include at least 300 ha of woodland If no sign of marten was found then a further search was made at a 10 km interval. If again no signs were found then the search along that particular woodland corridor stopped.
Within a chosen search area four separate tracks of 1 km in length were walked and both marten and fox scats collected. The tracks were ideally dirt or stone, i.e. not grass-covered, and chosen non-randomly within the search area to include intersections with streams or other tracks and to exclude areas with high vehicle or people use. Scats which could have been fox or marten but too old and weathered to be positively identified as either were recorded as 'unknown'; these are not included in the dataset. Only those scats which were obviously marten were collected. Other records of pine martens since 1990 were also collated.
Balharry et al. (1996) Distribution of pine martens in Scotland as determined by field survey and questionnaire. Scottish Natural Heritage Research, Survey & Monitoring Report, No. 48
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