Monitoring post-release establishment and movement of animals is important in evaluating conservation translocations. We translocated 39 wild pine martens Martes martes (19 females, 20 males) from Scotland to Wales. We released them into forested areas with no conspecifics in 2015, followed by a second release in 2016, alongside the previously released animals. We used radio-tracking to describe post-release movement and habitat selection. Six martens (15%) were not re-encountered during the tracking period, of which four undertook long-distance dispersal. For the remaining individuals, we characterised two phases of movement, ‘exploration’ followed by ‘settlement’, that differed between releases. In the first release, martens remained in exploration phase for a mean of 14.5 days (SE=3.9 days) and settled at a mean distance of 8.7km (SE=1.8km) from release sites, whereas martens released in year two, alongside resident conspecifics, travelled away from release sites at a faster rate, settling sooner, at a mean of 6.6 days (SE=1.8 days), but further, at a mean distance of 14.0km (SE=1.7km) from release sites. Animals released in year one did not exhibit habitat preferences overall but within forests they favoured recently-felled areas, whereas animals released in year two showed strong selection for forested habitat but did not discriminate between forest types. The presence of conspecifics appeared influential for settlement and site fidelity of translocated martens and was associated with more rapid but more distant dispersal of the later cohort. Releases of animals in close proximity appeared to promote site fidelity and rapid establishment of ranges in the recipient environment.
Data were collected by radio-tracking pine martens that had been translocated from Scotland to Wales in 2015 and 2016.
NB An update on 30 September 2020 corrected the locations data file with a complete set of locations of martens from both years of the study, where the original file contained only those from year one.