Martes gwatkinsiiNilgiri marten

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Geographic Range

Nilgiri martens (Martes gwatkinsii) are endemic to the western Ghats mountain range of southern India, which is found within the oriental geographic range. ("Nilgiri Marten", 2012; Balakrishnan, 2005; Gokula and Ramachandran, 1996; Hussain, 2012; "Martes gwatkinsii", 2012; John, 2002; Krishna and Karnad, 2010; Kumara and Singh, 2007; Kumara, 2006; Radhakrishnan, 2000)

Habitat

Nilgiri martens occur predominantly in the moist tropical rainforests of southern India at an altitudinal range of 300 to 1200 m. There have been reports of sightings in coffee, cardamom, wattle plantations, swamps, grasslands, deciduous forests, and montane-evergreen forests. ("Nilgiri Marten", 2012; Balakrishnan, 2005; Gokula and Ramachandran, 1996; Hussain, 2012; "Martes gwatkinsii", 2012; John, 2002; Krishna and Karnad, 2010; Kumara and Singh, 2007)

  • Range elevation
    300 to 1200 m
    984.25 to 3937.01 ft

Physical Description

Nilgiri martens average around 2.1 kg. Their body lengths are anywhere from 55 to 65 cm, with their tail length being anywhere from 40 to 45 cm. As a marten, they have a high basal metabolic rate. Their coat color is brown with a very distinct yellow or orange throat patch. Nilgiri martens are similiar in size and appearance to yellow-throated martens. Nilgiri martens are distinguished by their slightly larger size and by the structure of their skulls. Nilgiri marten braincases are flattened above with a prominent frontal concavity. ("Nilgiri Marten", 2012; Balakrishnan, 2005; Gokula and Ramachandran, 1996; Hussain, 2012; John, 2002; Kumara and Singh, 2007; Wund, 2005)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • male larger
  • Average mass
    2.1 kg
    4.63 lb
  • Range length
    55 to 65 mm
    2.17 to 2.56 in

Reproduction

The reproductive habits of the Nilgiri martens have not been studied. Many mustelids are polygynous, however, yellow-throated martens are known to be monogamous. As Nilgiri martens closest relatives they are presumed to share many biological and behavioral traits; therefore it is likely that Nilgiri martens are also monogamous. ("The Yellow-throated Marten - It is Just Their Natural Color", 2011; Shak, 2012; Wund, 2005)

Nilgiri martens reproductive habits have not been exclusively studied. However, we can presume similar reproductive behaviors to close relatives yellow-throated martens and other mustelids. Most mustelids breed seasonally. Yellow-throated martens breed between either February and March or between June and August; Nilgiri martens may follow a similar reproductive schedule. Other species of Martens undergo delayed implantation. Gestation typically lasts 30 to 65 days for mustelids. Gestation periods of yellow-throated martens last between 220 and 290 days. It is unknown whether Nilgiri martena have a similarly long gestation period as yellow-throated martens. Generally, mustelids are altricial, being born small and blind. Information on the growth and development of Nilgiri martens have not been documented. Yellow-throated martens have been recorded to have 2 to 6 kits per litter. ("The Yellow-throated Marten - It is Just Their Natural Color", 2011; Shak, 2012; Wund, 2005)

  • Breeding interval
    Most mustelids breed seasonally.
  • Breeding season
    Most mustelid breeding seasons lasts between 3 to 4 months.

No information is available regarding the parental investment of Nilgiri martens. Other mustelids are altricial, are weaned at 6 to 8 weeks and receive parental care until about 3 to 4 months. ("The Yellow-throated Marten - It is Just Their Natural Color", 2011; Shak, 2012; Wund, 2005)

  • Parental Investment
  • altricial
  • pre-fertilization
    • provisioning
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-independence
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female

Lifespan/Longevity

The lifespan of Nilgiri martens is currently unknown. However, a close relative, yellow-throated martens, has been known to live on average 14 years in captivity. Other martens have been known to live on average 10 to 18.1 years in captivity. ("Mammals", 2002)

  • Average lifespan
    Status: captivity
    14 years

Behavior

Nilgiri martens are thought to be diunral and mostly arboreal expect for hunting and foraging excursions. Nilgiri martens are thought to be social creatures, much like yellow-throated martens. It has been seen interacting and even hunting in groups. Nilgiri martens often preys upon small mammals such as mouse deer. ("Nilgiri Marten", 2012; "The Yellow-throated Marten - It is Just Their Natural Color", 2011; Balakrishnan, 2005; Harrison, et al., 2005; Hussain, 2012; John, 2002; Krishna and Karnad, 2010; Kumara and Singh, 2007; Parr and Duckworth, 2007; Radhakrishnan, 2000)

Home Range

Little is known about Nilgiri martens home ranges. However, martens often require among the largest home range in areas per unit body weight of any group of mammals. (Harrison, et al., 2005)

Communication and Perception

Given Nilgiri martens presumably social nature, they likely communicate both vocally and chemically, through scent marking, similiarly to other martens. They likely use sight, scent, touch, and sound to perceive their environment, although little is currently known about their communication. ("The Yellow-throated Marten - It is Just Their Natural Color", 2011; Shak, 2012; Wund, 2005)

Food Habits

Martens are omnivorous. Nilgiri martens are partly frugivorous and insectivorous. They are believed to be good hunters and frequently kill and eat small mammals and birds. There have even been reports of Nilgiri martens hunting chevrotains, monitor lizards, crows, Indian giant squirrels, and cicadas. They have also been known to consume nectar in the form of honey. ("Nilgiri Marten", 2012; Balakrishnan, 2005; Gokula and Ramachandran, 1996; Hussain, 2012; Parr and Duckworth, 2007; Radhakrishnan, 2000)

  • Animal Foods
  • birds
  • mammals
  • insects
  • Plant Foods
  • fruit

Predation

Nilgiri martens have no known natural predators. However, as a small carnivore it could be vulnerable to predation by any larger predators in the area. Large predators in the Western Ghats region of southern India include leopards, sloth bears, dholes, and tigers. (Ramesh, et al., 2012)

Ecosystem Roles

Mustelids mainly impact their environments through their effects on prey populations. "Given their strong associations with structural complexity in forests, marten and the fisher are often considered as useful barometers of forest health and have been used as ecological indicators, flagship, and umbrella species in different parts of the world, particularly in the United States, Canada, and Scandinavia. Thus, efforts to successfully conserve and manage martens and fishers are associated with the ecological fates of other forest dependent species and can greatly influence ecosystem integrity within forests that are increasingly shared among wildlife and humans (Harrison, Fuller and Proulx, 2005)." (Harrison, et al., 2005; Ramesh, et al., 2012; Shak, 2012; Wund, 2005)

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Nilgiri martens have been reported to be hunted for human consumption. However, due to the rarity of the species, it is unlikely that Nilgiri martens are an important food source. It is also unlikely that the fur of Nilgiri martens is valuable, as the fur of its closest relatives, yellow-throated martens, is considered to be of little value. (Kumara and Singh, 2007; Shak, 2012; Wund, 2005)

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Nilgiri martens have been reported raiding local bee hives and therefore has been considered a pests by local bee farmers. However, the scarcity of Nilgiri martens leads researchers to believe that the impact on the local honey industry is minimal. (Kumara and Singh, 2007)

Conservation Status

Nilgiri martens are listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List and is listed under Appendix III under the CITES appendices. "This species is listed as Vulnerable because its entire extent of occurrence is less than 20,000 km², its distribution is severely fragmented, and there is continuing decline in the extent and quality of its forest habitat in the six discontinuous national parks where is occurs. In addition, remaining populations are severely fragmented due to a continuing decline in the extent and quality of habitat (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, 2012)". ("Martes gwatkinsii", 2012)

Contributors

Amanda Webb (author), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Christopher Yahnke (editor), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Laura Podzikowski (editor), Special Projects.

Glossary

acoustic

uses sound to communicate

agricultural

living in landscapes dominated by human agriculture.

altricial

young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state; they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.

arboreal

Referring to an animal that lives in trees; tree-climbing.

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.

carnivore

an animal that mainly eats meat

chemical

uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

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.

forest

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

frugivore

an animal that mainly eats fruit

herbivore

An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.

insectivore

An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.

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).

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

mountains

This terrestrial biome includes summits of high mountains, either without vegetation or covered by low, tundra-like vegetation.

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

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

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

Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. 2002. "Mammals" (On-line). Longevity Records: Life Spans of Mammals, Birds, Amphibians, Reptiles, and Fish. Accessed August 18, 2012 at http://www.demogr.mpg.de/longevityrecords/0203.htm.

International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. 2012. "Martes gwatkinsii" (On-line). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Accessed August 17, 2012 at http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/12847/0.

2012. "Nilgiri Marten" (On-line). The Animal Files.com. Accessed August 17, 2012 at http://www.theanimalfiles.com/mammals/carnivores/marten_nilgiri.html.

2011. "The Yellow-throated Marten - It is Just Their Natural Color" (On-line). Accessed August 17, 2012 at http://thewebsiteofeverything.com/animals/mammals/Carnivora/Mustelidae/Martes/Martes-flavigula.html.

Balakrishnan, P. 2005. Recent sightings and habitat characteristics of the endemic Nilgiri Marten. Small Carnivore Conservation, 33: 14-16.

Gokula, V., N. Ramachandran. 1996. A Record of the Nilgiri Marten Martes gwatkinsi Horsfield in Upper Bhavani. The Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society, 93: 82.

Harrison, D., A. Fuller, G. Proulx. 2005. Martens and Fishers (Martes) in Human-altered Environments An International Perspective. United States of America: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Hussain, S. 2012. "Nilgiri marten Martes gwatkinsii Horsfield, 1851" (On-line). Mustelids, Viverrids and Herpestids of India: Species Profile and Conservation Status. Accessed August 17, 2012 at http://oldwww.wii.gov.in/envis/envisdec99/nilgirimartin.htm.

John, J. 2002. Hunting Attempt by Nilgiri Marten Martes gwatkinsi Horsfield, family Mustelidae, in Periyar Tiger Reserve, Kerala. The Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society, 99/2: 286.

Krishna, C., D. Karnad. 2010. New records of the Nilgiri Marten Martes gwatkinsii in Western Ghats, India. Small Carnivore Conservation, 43: 1-5.

Kumara, H. 2006. Impact of local hunting on abundance of large mammals in three protected areas of the Western Ghats, Karnataka. Rufford Maurice Laing Foundation, 1: 2-6.

Kumara, H., M. Singh. 2007. Small Carnivores of Karnataka: Distribution and Sight Records. Journal of Bombay Natural History Society, 104: 155-162.

Parr, J., J. Duckworth. 2007. Notes on diet, habituation and sociality of Yellow-throated Marten. Small Carnivore Conservation, 36: 27-29. Accessed August 16, 2012 at http://www.smallcarnivoreconservation.org/sccwiki/images/c/c0/SCC36_Parr_and_Duckworth.pdf.

Radhakrishnan, S. 2000. The Wildlife of Kerala. Panchali, 16: 1-4. Accessed August 15, 2012 at http://www.vetcos.com/panchali/pdfs/Article_16_wildlife.pdf.

Ramesh, T., S. Natarajan, S. Kalyansundaram, Q. Qureshi, K. Selvan, G. Neduncheran, F. Pichaiyan, N. Kannadasan, Y. Jhala, R. Gopal. 2012. Status of Large Carnivores and Their Prey in Tropical Rainforests of South-western Ghats, India. Tropical Ecology, 53/2: 137-148. Accessed August 24, 2012 at http://wii.academia.edu/kannadasannarasimmarajan/Papers/1568235/Status_of_large_carnivores_and_their_prey_in_tropical_rainforests_of_South-western_Ghats_India.

Shak, M. 2012. "Martes flavigula" (On-line). Animal Diversity Web. Accessed August 17, 2012 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Martes_flavigula.html.

Wund, M. 2005. "Mustelidae" (On-line). Animal Diversity Web. Accessed August 24, 2012 at http://www.arlis.org/docs/vol1/52386062/mustelidae.html.