Pine martens & squirrels

Pine marten
Pine marten, by Mike Davison, Licence CC BY-ND 2.0

There was an interesting piece about pine martens and squirrels by Patrick Barkham in the Guardian yesterday.

Ignore the hyperbolic headline “Hopes dashed that resurgent pine martens can save UK’s red squirrel”, which doesn’t really reflect the facts. Undash your hopes because the situation is quite nuanced.

The article reports research by Joshua Twining of Queen’s University, Belfast.

Pine martens prefer deciduous woodland to conifers, and they avoid urban areas. They control grey squirrel populations, but even if pine marten numbers increase, parks in towns and cities are likely to be refuges for greys.

The existence of urban refuges for greys might allow them to develop novel genotypes and successful anti-pine marten behaviours.

The research team suggest native woodland afforestation to help pine martens, and (human) control of grey squirrel populations.

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