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There Goes the Neighborhood! The Disruption of American Marten Habitat

This article is from Issue Rocky Mountain - Vol. 2 No. 1.

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In many places where martens live, trees are harvested for wood products, leaving martens with an environment very different from the forested one they prefer. When tree harvesting occurs, the marten’s habitat is broken up, large patches of open land are created, and the forest environment remains only in little patches, or fragments. The scientists in this study, wanted to know if marten populations are shrinking because of forest fragmentation.

Note to Educators

Education Standards Correlations

Meet the scientists that contributed to this article:

"Science Topics" covered in this article:
  • Life Science
  • People and Science

"Environmental Topics" covered in this article:
  • Importance of Forest to People (Students)
  • The Value of Forests and Grasslands (Educators)
  • Using Forests (Students)
  • Vegetation Protection (Fire, Insects, Endangered Species) (Educators)
  • Wildlife and Endangered Species (Educators)

Regions covered in this article:
  • Rocky Mountain

"Thinking About Science Themes" covered in this article:
Scientists often study animals in their natural habitat. When they do this, they try not to disturb or harm the animals. Sometimes, they can study animals from far away using photography or other forms of observation. Often, however, they need to take measurements of individual animals to understand whether they are healthy or sick, and sometimes just to identify them. Scientists use live-traps to capture animals without harming them. Then, they can examine the animal up close before returning him or her unharmed to the environment. Scientists have ethical standards so that they do not harm the individuals they want to study. The scientists in this study wanted to learn about a weasel-like animal called the marten. They used live-traps to study the martens before returning them to their environment.
Specific "Thinking About Science" Themes:
  • Characteristics of Scientists

"Thinking About Environmental Themes" covered in this article:
The American marten is a carnivorous mammal that lives in forests throughout Alaska, Canada, and the Northern United States. Martens are related to minks, and just like minks, they have slinky bodies and soft, rich fur. They eat mostly mice and squirrels, but sometimes they eat berries and carrion. They hunt for small animals by slipping quietly around big logs and tree trunks in forests. Martens avoid places that do not have trees because it is difficult for them to hunt in open areas.
Specific "Thinking About the Environment" Themes:
  • Human impact on natural resources and other living things

NSE Standards covered in this article:
  • Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry (A)
  • Diversity and adaptations of organisms (C)
  • Nature of science (G)
  • Populations and ecosystems (C)
  • Regulation and behavior (C)
  • Science as a human endeavor (G)
  • Understandings about scientific inquiry (A)

Science Benchmarks covered in this article:
  • Common Themes: Systems
  • Habits of Mind: Communication Skils
  • Habits of Mind: Critical-Response Skills
  • Habits of Mind: Values and Attitudes
  • Human Society: Political and Economic Systems
  • The Living Environment: Diversity of Life
  • The Mathematical World: Reasoning
  • The Nature of Mathematics: Mathematics, Science, and Technology
  • The Nature of Science: Scientific Inquiry
  • The Nature of Science: The Scientific Enterprise
  • The Nature of Technology: Issues in Technology