Martes flavigulayellow-throated marten

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Geographic Range

Yellow-throated martens, Martes flavigula, also known as kharza, live in forested regions throughout Southern and Eastern Asia. Their range extends throughout the Himalayas, as far south as Indonesia, and as far north as the Korean Peninsula and the Chinese-Russian border. (Heptner and Sludskii, 2002)

Habitat

Yellow-throated martens occupy a variety of habitats. They prefer mixed forests composed of spruce and broad-leaved trees. In the northern part of their range, they also inhabit coniferous taiga. In the southern part of their range, they inhabit lowland swamps and marshes as well as treeless mountains in Northern India, Pakistan, and Nepal. Yellow-throated martens have been observed at altitudes of 0 to 3000 m above sea-level. (Abramov, et al., 2008; Heptner and Sludskii, 2002)

  • Range elevation
    0 to 3000 m
    0.00 to 9842.52 ft

Physical Description

Yellow-throated martens are relatively large martens and are notable for their flexible and muscular appearance. The lengthy tail is about two-thirds of their body length. Adult males range from 50 to 71.9 cm in length (61.2 cm average) and from 2.5 to 5.7 kg in mass (3.3 kg average). Females are somewhat smaller and range from 50 to 62 cm in length (57.5 cm average) and from 1.2 to 3.8 kg in mass (2.8 kg average).

Yellow-throated martens have a unique coloration, though it can vary considerably across individuals and subspecies. The head is black or dark brown, the back and underside are light brown or yellow, the chest and throat are bright yellow or golden, and the tail is mostly black or dark brown. Summer coloration is darker and duller than in winter.

This color pattern, particularly the yellow throat for which it is named, distinguishes Martes flavigula from other species in the genus. In 2005, 9 subspecies of M. flavigula were recognized, distinguished by slight variation in coloring and fur (Wozencraft, 2005). In general, these subspecies are distinguished by the presence or absence of a naked area of skin on the hind foot and the length and color of the animal’s winter coat. (Heptner and Sludskii, 2002; Wozencraft, 2005)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • male larger
  • Range mass
    1.2 to 5.7 kg
    2.64 to 12.56 lb
  • Average mass
    male 3.3 kg; female 2.8 kg
    lb
  • Range length
    50 to 71.9 cm
    19.69 to 28.31 in
  • Average length
    male 61.2 cm; female 57.5 cm
    in

Reproduction

The reproductive habits of yellow-throated martens have not been extensively studied, but they are thought to be monogamous. Male-male combat for mates has been observed during periods of breeding. (Heptner and Sludskii, 2002)

Yellow-throated martens breed annually between either February and March or between June and August. Gestation typically lasts between 220 and 290 days. Litters typically contain 2 or 3 kits, although litters of 4 or 5 have been observed.

Other species in the genus Martes exhibit delayed implantation, and it is likely that yellow-throated martens also employ this reproductive strategy considering their unusually long gestation period relative to most mammals. Further information on the growth and development of these animals has not been documented. Other species of martens are typically weaned between 6 and 8 weeks of age and leave the care of their mother between 3 and 4 months of age. (Abramov, et al., 2008; Heptner and Sludskii, 2002; de Magalhaes and Costa, 2009)

  • Breeding interval
    Yellow-throated martens breed annually during one of two breeding seasons.
  • Breeding season
    Yellow-throated martens mate either between February and March or between June and August.
  • Range number of offspring
    2 to 5
  • Average number of offspring
    2.5
  • Range gestation period
    220 to 290 days

Little information is available regarding parental investment of yellow-throated martens. Other species in the genus Martes are weaned at 6 to 8 weeks and continue to receive maternal care for 3 to 4 months before living independently. (de Magalhaes and Costa, 2009)

  • Parental Investment
  • female parental care
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • female

Lifespan/Longevity

Little is known about the lifespan of yellow-throated martens in the wild. One individual lived 16 years in captivity. (Weigl, 2005; de Magalhaes and Costa, 2009)

  • Range lifespan
    Status: captivity
    16 (high) years

Behavior

Yellow-throated martens are mostly diurnal, though they has been observed being active at night. Unlike many mustelids, yellow-throated martens are not solitary and instead have been observed moving in groups of 2 or occasionally 3. These small groups have been known to hunt prey together, increasing the chances of a successful hunt. In general, yellow-throated martens travel on the ground, but they can capably climb trees and travel from tree to tree by jumping as far as 8 or 9 m.

This species is known for its lack of fear of humans. When an individual encounters a large, noisy group of people, it is slow to flee. Perhaps for this reason, yellow-throated martens have a reputation for being easily tamed. (Grassman, et al., 2005; Heptner and Sludskii, 2002; Parr and Duckworth, 2007)

  • Range territory size
    1.7 to 11.8 km^2
  • Average territory size
    7.2 km^2

Home Range

The home range of yellow-throated martens can be quite extensive. They regularly travel 10 to 20 km in a single day in the northern parts of their range, but individuals in other areas travel less. In Thailand, yellow-throated martens travel about 1 km per day and have an annual range of 7.2 sq km. (Grassman, et al., 2005; Heptner and Sludskii, 2002)

Communication and Perception

Little is known about communication of yellow-throated martens. They are social creatures that travel in groups of 2 to 3, and males compete for mates, so communication is very likely. They likely utilize scent marking as is typical of mustelids.

  • Communication Channels
  • visual

Food Habits

Yellow-throated martens are omnivorous, and their diet varies with location and season. In the northern part of their range, they prey upon musk deer of the genus Moschus, which they hunt in groups. By surrounding the prey, they increase chances of a successful hunt. Yellow-throated martens often chase prey onto frozen lakes and rivers where they are easier to kill. Because they rely on musk deer as a prey source, trends in yellow-throated marten populations follow fluctuations in musk deer populations.

Yellow-throated martens also regularly consume small mammals (squirrels, hares, mouse-like rodents, etc.), birds, insects, nuts, and fruit. Unlike other martens, yellow-throated martens do not eat carrion. In warmer and lower-elevation climates, yellow-throated martens more frequently consume lizards and fruits, although specific diet in areas without musk deer is less well-known. They do not prefer vertebrate prey over fruit and instead favor fruit over rodents when both are available in abundance. This preference for fruit has not been observed in any other member of the genus Martes. (Heptner and Sludskii, 2002; Zhou, et al., 2011)

  • Animal Foods
  • birds
  • mammals
  • amphibians
  • reptiles
  • fish
  • eggs
  • insects
  • mollusks
  • Plant Foods
  • seeds, grains, and nuts
  • fruit

Predation

Yellow-throated martens have no natural predators, and they generally compete with other predators for food. (Heptner and Sludskii, 2002)

Ecosystem Roles

Yellow-throated martens act as a top-level predators and may impact prey populations, particularly of musk deer. Because they eat seeds and nuts, they may also disperse seeds throughout the forest. (Zhou, et al., 2008)

  • Ecosystem Impact
  • disperses seeds

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Unlike other mustelids, the fur of yellow-throated martens is not valuable enough to justify the considerable effort required to hunt and capture them. No other economic uses of this species are known. (Heptner and Sludskii, 2002)

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

In some regions, yellow-throated martens prey upon sables (Martes zibellina), a valuable furbearer, and thus negatively impact the fur industry. However, population levels are not high enough to have a considerable negative effect on this industry. (Heptner and Sludskii, 2002)

Conservation Status

Yellow-throated martens are considered a species of least concern by the IUCN as a result of their wide distribution throughout Asia and stable population throughout the area. They are protected, however, in several areas throughout their range, including Myanmar, Malaysia, and China. One subspecies, Martes flavigula chrysospila (Formosan yellow-throated marten) is considered endangered by the US Fish & Wildlife Service. Yellow-throated martens in India are also listed on Appendix III of CITES. (Abramov, et al., 2008)

Contributors

Marcus Shak (author), Yale University, Eric Sargis (editor), Yale University, Rachel Racicot (editor), Yale University, Gail McCormick (editor), Animal Diversity Web Staff.

Glossary

Palearctic

living in the northern part of the Old World. In otherwords, Europe and Asia and northern Africa.

World Map

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

chemical

uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

crepuscular

active at dawn and dusk

delayed implantation

in mammals, a condition in which a fertilized egg reaches the uterus but delays its implantation in the uterine lining, sometimes for several months.

diurnal
  1. active during the day, 2. lasting for one day.
endothermic

animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.

female parental care

parental care is carried out by females

forest

forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.

iteroparous

offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).

marsh

marshes are wetland areas often dominated by grasses and reeds.

monogamous

Having one mate at a time.

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

omnivore

an animal that mainly eats all kinds of things, including plants and animals

oriental

found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.

World Map

rainforest

rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.

scent marks

communicates by producing scents from special gland(s) and placing them on a surface whether others can smell or taste them

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season

sedentary

remains in the same area

sexual

reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

social

associates with others of its species; forms social groups.

swamp

a wetland area that may be permanently or intermittently covered in water, often dominated by woody vegetation.

tactile

uses touch to communicate

taiga

Coniferous or boreal forest, located in a band across northern North America, Europe, and Asia. This terrestrial biome also occurs at high elevations. Long, cold winters and short, wet summers. Few species of trees are present; these are primarily conifers that grow in dense stands with little undergrowth. Some deciduous trees also may be present.

temperate

that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).

terrestrial

Living on the ground.

tropical

the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.

visual

uses sight to communicate

viviparous

reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.

References

Abramov, A., R. Timmins, S. Robertson, B. Long, T. Zaw, J. Duckworth. 2008. "Martes flavigula" (On-line). In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.1. Accessed April 26, 2012 at http://www.iucnredlist.org/apps/redlist/details/41649/0.

Grassman, L., M. Tewes, N. Silvy. 2005. Ranging, Habitat Use and Activity Patterns of Binturong Arctictis binturong and Yellow-throated Marten Martes flavigula in North-Central Thailand. Wildlife Biology, 11: 49-58.

Heptner, V., A. Sludskii. 2002. Mammals of the Soviet Union. Vol. II, part 1b, Carnivores (Mustelidae and Procyonidae). Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Libraries and National Science Foundation.

Parr, J., J. Duckworth. 2007. Notes on Diet, Habituation and Sociality of Yellow-throated Martens Martes flavigula. Small Carnivore Conservation, 36: 27-29.

Weigl, R. 2005. Longevity of Mammals in Captivity; from the Living Collections of the World. Stuttgart: Kleine Senckenberg-Reihe 48. Accessed April 26, 2012 at http://genomics.senescence.info/species/biblio.php?id=671.

Wozencraft, W. 2005. Order Carnivora. Pp. 532-628 in D Wilson, D Reeder, eds. Mammal Species of the World. A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference. Smithsonian Institution Press: Washington, DC.

Zaw, T., S. Htun, S. Htoo, T. Po, M. Maung, A. Lynam, K. Latt, J. Duckworth. 2008. Status and Distribution of Small Carnivores in Myanmar. Small Carnivore Conservation, 38: 2-28.

Zhou, Y., C. Newman, C. Buesching, A. Zaleski, Y. Kaneko, D. MacDonald, Z. Xie. 2011. Diet of an Opportunistically Frugivorous Carnivore, Martes flavigula, in Subtropical Forest. Journal of Mammalogy, 92: 611-619.

Zhou, Y., E. Slade, C. Newman, X. Wang, S. Zhang. 2008. Frugivory and Seed Dispersal by the Yellow-throated Marten, Martes flavigula, in a Subtropical Forest of China. Journal of Tropical Ecology, 24: 219-223.

de Magalhaes, J., J. Costa. 2009. A database of vertebrate longevity records and their relation to other life-history traits. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 22(8): 1770-1774. Accessed July 16, 2012 at http://genomics.senescence.info/species/entry.php?species=Martes_flavigula.