Weasels can be important components of grassland and meadow communities where they influence the dynamics of small mammal populations which, in turn, can be keystone species in these communities. We evaluate a method for detecting and identifying two species of North American mustelines (i.e., Mustela frenata and M. erminea) in mountain meadow systems. It is based on previous knowledge that weasels often co-opt the winter nests of their vole (or lemming) prey and frequently deposit scats there. We exploit this aspect of the predator-prey relationship and describe how, when paired with genetic identification of species from scat, searching after spring melt for weasel scats in winter-constructed vole nests may be an alternative survey method for detecting weasels in meadows. Our work was conducted at the Sagehen Experimental Forest in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. We discovered and examined 90 winter vole nests over four spring seasons, resulting in an average (SD) of 3.31 (1.81) nests found per survey hour per year. From these nests we collected an average of 0.57 (0.37) putative weasel scats per survey hour. Of the seven scats that were verified to be from a weasel, five were from M. frenata and two from M. erminea. This was a proof of concept effort, to which we conclude that searches of vole nests for scat that can be genetically verified as weasel should have a place in the biologist's toolkit. The method is likely to be the most efficient for obtaining a genetic sample for weasels in mountain meadow systems.
You have requested a machine translation of selected content from our databases. This functionality is provided solely for your convenience and is in no way intended to replace human translation. Neither BioOne nor the owners and publishers of the content make, and they explicitly disclaim, any express or implied representations or warranties of any kind, including, without limitation, representations and warranties as to the functionality of the translation feature or the accuracy or completeness of the translations.
Translations are not retained in our system. Your use of this feature and the translations is subject to all use restrictions contained in the Terms and Conditions of Use of the BioOne website.
Vol. 93 • No. 3-4