The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and partners will expand research efforts on the coastal subspecies of pacific marten in southwestern Oregon after the agency was awarded a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service grant this month.
Wildlife biologists will use the funding to fill knowledge gaps in the understanding of coastal marten ecology and to inform adaptive conservation actions. Coastal marten are listed as a federally threatened species and a state endangered species in California.
The $488,657 grant will fund the project, Promoting Transboundary Recovery of Coastal Marten, and will support work by ODFW, California Department of Fish and Wildlife and Oregon State University to determine population size, distribution, habitat associations and presence of co-occurring species for marten populations in southwestern Oregon and northwestern California.
“We’re excited to move forward with additional research to better understand the needs of coastal marten, so that we can learn how to best manage for the species and increase the likelihood of marten populations persisting into the future,” said Jade Keehn, ODFW Wildlife Conservation Biologist.
Coastal marten, a subspecies of the Pacific marten (Martes caurina), also referred to as a Humboldt marten (M. c. humboldtensis), are a Species of Greatest Conservation Need in Oregon and in California.
“Coastal marten are adapted to unique habitats in western Oregon,” added Keehn. “We know very little about their ecology and are concerned about threats to persistence of this species, especially knowing that the species occupies only a small fraction of its historical range.”
Coastal marten were historically found from the northern border of Oregon to Sonoma County, Calif. Today, the number of coastal martens appear to be substantially reduced as they face multiple contemporary threats such as climate change, habitat fragmentation and collision fatality rates on roads and freeways.
“We’re still in the early stages here, but successful conservation of coastal marten will require a heavy lift to address all of the critical research and monitoring needs to inform recovery efforts,” said Keehn.
Funding provided through the Competitive State Wildlife Grant Program will allow ODFW and counterparts in California to work more closely with partners like Dr. Sean Matthews, an associate research faculty member at OSU specializing in the ecology of carnivores and other wildlife species in the Pacific Northwest. Through a subaward to OSU, Dr. Matthews and research faculty will lead the partnership’s efforts to provide critical data to support on-the-ground conservation measures for the coastal marten.
“ODFW staff have been working with partners such as the Alongside Wildlife Foundation and Oregon Wildlife Foundation to better understand marten distribution at a local scale, but we’ve had limited capacity to take on some of the bigger research questions that need to be answered now that coastal martens are a federally listed species,” noted Keehn. “This grant allows Oregon and California to work together at an unprecedented scale, and will bring more agencies, partners, and institutions to the table to support recovery goals for this species.”