We investigated habitat selection and home-range characteristics of American martens (Martes americana) that occupied home ranges with partially harvested stands characterized by basal area of trees <18 m2/ha and canopy closure <30%. During the leaf-on season (1 May–31 Oct), martens selected second-growth (80–140-years-old, >9-m tree height) forest stands (deciduous, coniferous, and mixed coniferous-deciduous) and mixed stands that were partially harvested (x̄ = 13 m2/ha residual basal area, >9-m tree height), and they selected against forests regenerating after clearcutting (≤6-m tree height, cuts ≤24-years-old). Marten home ranges included a greater proportion of partially harvested stands during the leaf-on season (maximum = 73%) than during leaf-off (1 Nov–30 Apr; maximum = 34%). Higher use of partially harvested stands during the leaf-on season coincided with greater canopy closure, higher use of small mammals, and greater relative densities of small mammals. During the leaf-off season, martens exhibited reduced relative selection for partially harvested and regenerating stands and increased selection for second-growth forest types. Partially harvested and regenerating clearcut stands had canopy closure <30% and basal area of trees >9-m tall of <13 m2/ha; both were below published thresholds required by martens. Coincidentally, home-range areas of martens increased during the leaf-off season to include a greater proportion of second-growth forest and less partially harvested forest. Further, martens with partial harvesting in their home ranges used areas almost twice as large during the leaf-off season as martens with no partial harvesting. Snowshoe hares (Lepus americanus) were prevalent prey for martens during the leaf-off season, and partially harvested stands had the lowest density of hares among all forest overstory types. Our findings suggest that the combination of insufficient basal area and overhead canopy closure, subnivean behavior of small mammals, increased reliance on hares, and reduced density of snowshoe hares relative to second-growth forest types reduced habitat quality in partially harvested stands during the leaf-off season. We suggest land managers retain basal areas >18 m2/ha and canopy closure >30% during winter to maximize use by martens in stands where partial harvesting is practiced.
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Vol. 69 • No. 2