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29 July 2022 Relationships between age, diet, and stress-related hormones and reproduction in American marten (Martes americana)
Mandy J. Keogh, Kerry L. Nicholson, John P. Skinner
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American marten (Martes americana) in Interior Alaska are at the northwestern limit of their North American range. To investigate factors that may be associated with reproduction we determined the cementum age and the presence or absence of blastocysts in 118 female martens for 3 years (2012, 2014, and 2016) in two regions. For each marten we collected fur samples and measured steroid hormone concentrations (cortisol, testosterone, and progesterone) and stable isotopes (δ15N and δ13C values, a proxy for diet). These parameters reflect the diet and endocrine activity between June and October when fur is grown. We also collected two claws from a subset of 39 female marten from one region in 2012 and 2014. Progesterone concentrations were measured in one whole claw and from a second claw divided into proximal (recent growth) and distal sections. Differences in the probability of blastocysts being present were associated with geographic region and sample year suggesting that reproduction in female marten varies on a fine scale. We found the that presence of blastocysts was positively associated with marten age and δ15N values in fur but negatively associated with fur cortisol concentrations. These findings suggest that the likelihood a female marten will reproduce in a given year is influenced, in part, by the proportion of protein in their diet and stressors encountered during late summer and fall, months before active gestation begins.

Mandy J. Keogh, Kerry L. Nicholson, and John P. Skinner "Relationships between age, diet, and stress-related hormones and reproduction in American marten (Martes americana)," Journal of Mammalogy 103(6), 1315-1326, (29 July 2022).
Received: 25 March 2021; Accepted: 6 February 2022; Published: 29 July 2022
stable isotopes
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