Nilgiri martens (Martes gwatkinsii) are endemic to the western Ghats mountain range of southern India, which is found within the oriental geographic range. ("Nilgiri Marten", 2012; Balakrishnan, 2005; Gokula and Ramachandran, 1996; Hussain, 2012; "Martes gwatkinsii", 2012; John, 2002; Krishna and Karnad, 2010; Kumara and Singh, 2007; Kumara, 2006; Radhakrishnan, 2000)
Nilgiri martens occur predominantly in the moist tropical rainforests of southern India at an altitudinal range of 300 to 1200 m. There have been reports of sightings in coffee, cardamom, wattle plantations, swamps, grasslands, deciduous forests, and montane-evergreen forests. ("Nilgiri Marten", 2012; Balakrishnan, 2005; Gokula and Ramachandran, 1996; Hussain, 2012; "Martes gwatkinsii", 2012; John, 2002; Krishna and Karnad, 2010; Kumara and Singh, 2007)
Nilgiri martens average around 2.1 kg. Their body lengths are anywhere from 55 to 65 cm, with their tail length being anywhere from 40 to 45 cm. As a marten, they have a high basal metabolic rate. Their coat color is brown with a very distinct yellow or orange throat patch. Nilgiri martens are similiar in size and appearance to yellow-throated martens. Nilgiri martens are distinguished by their slightly larger size and by the structure of their skulls. Nilgiri marten braincases are flattened above with a prominent frontal concavity. ("Nilgiri Marten", 2012; Balakrishnan, 2005; Gokula and Ramachandran, 1996; Hussain, 2012; John, 2002; Kumara and Singh, 2007; Wund, 2005)
The reproductive habits of the Nilgiri martens have not been studied. Many mustelids are polygynous, however, yellow-throated martens are known to be monogamous. As Nilgiri martens closest relatives they are presumed to share many biological and behavioral traits; therefore it is likely that Nilgiri martens are also monogamous. ("The Yellow-throated Marten - It is Just Their Natural Color", 2011; Shak, 2012; Wund, 2005)
Nilgiri martens reproductive habits have not been exclusively studied. However, we can presume similar reproductive behaviors to close relatives yellow-throated martens and other mustelids. Most mustelids breed seasonally. Yellow-throated martens breed between either February and March or between June and August; Nilgiri martens may follow a similar reproductive schedule. Other species of Martens undergo delayed implantation. Gestation typically lasts 30 to 65 days for mustelids. Gestation periods of yellow-throated martens last between 220 and 290 days. It is unknown whether Nilgiri martena have a similarly long gestation period as yellow-throated martens. Generally, mustelids are altricial, being born small and blind. Information on the growth and development of Nilgiri martens have not been documented. Yellow-throated martens have been recorded to have 2 to 6 kits per litter. ("The Yellow-throated Marten - It is Just Their Natural Color", 2011; Shak, 2012; Wund, 2005)
No information is available regarding the parental investment of Nilgiri martens. Other mustelids are altricial, are weaned at 6 to 8 weeks and receive parental care until about 3 to 4 months. ("The Yellow-throated Marten - It is Just Their Natural Color", 2011; Shak, 2012; Wund, 2005)
The lifespan of Nilgiri martens is currently unknown. However, a close relative, yellow-throated martens, has been known to live on average 14 years in captivity. Other martens have been known to live on average 10 to 18.1 years in captivity. ("Mammals", 2002)
Nilgiri martens are thought to be diunral and mostly arboreal expect for hunting and foraging excursions. Nilgiri martens are thought to be social creatures, much like yellow-throated martens. It has been seen interacting and even hunting in groups. Nilgiri martens often preys upon small mammals such as mouse deer. ("Nilgiri Marten", 2012; "The Yellow-throated Marten - It is Just Their Natural Color", 2011; Balakrishnan, 2005; Harrison, et al., 2005; Hussain, 2012; John, 2002; Krishna and Karnad, 2010; Kumara and Singh, 2007; Parr and Duckworth, 2007; Radhakrishnan, 2000)
Little is known about Nilgiri martens home ranges. However, martens often require among the largest home range in areas per unit body weight of any group of mammals. (Harrison, et al., 2005)
Given Nilgiri martens presumably social nature, they likely communicate both vocally and chemically, through scent marking, similiarly to other martens. They likely use sight, scent, touch, and sound to perceive their environment, although little is currently known about their communication. ("The Yellow-throated Marten - It is Just Their Natural Color", 2011; Shak, 2012; Wund, 2005)
Martens are omnivorous. Nilgiri martens are partly frugivorous and insectivorous. They are believed to be good hunters and frequently kill and eat small mammals and birds. There have even been reports of Nilgiri martens hunting chevrotains, monitor lizards, crows, Indian giant squirrels, and cicadas. They have also been known to consume nectar in the form of honey. ("Nilgiri Marten", 2012; Balakrishnan, 2005; Gokula and Ramachandran, 1996; Hussain, 2012; Parr and Duckworth, 2007; Radhakrishnan, 2000)
Nilgiri martens have no known natural predators. However, as a small carnivore it could be vulnerable to predation by any larger predators in the area. Large predators in the Western Ghats region of southern India include leopards, sloth bears, dholes, and tigers. (Ramesh, et al., 2012)
Mustelids mainly impact their environments through their effects on prey populations. "Given their strong associations with structural complexity in forests, marten and the fisher are often considered as useful barometers of forest health and have been used as ecological indicators, flagship, and umbrella species in different parts of the world, particularly in the United States, Canada, and Scandinavia. Thus, efforts to successfully conserve and manage martens and fishers are associated with the ecological fates of other forest dependent species and can greatly influence ecosystem integrity within forests that are increasingly shared among wildlife and humans (Harrison, Fuller and Proulx, 2005)." (Harrison, et al., 2005; Ramesh, et al., 2012; Shak, 2012; Wund, 2005)
Nilgiri martens have been reported to be hunted for human consumption. However, due to the rarity of the species, it is unlikely that Nilgiri martens are an important food source. It is also unlikely that the fur of Nilgiri martens is valuable, as the fur of its closest relatives, yellow-throated martens, is considered to be of little value. (Kumara and Singh, 2007; Shak, 2012; Wund, 2005)
Nilgiri martens have been reported raiding local bee hives and therefore has been considered a pests by local bee farmers. However, the scarcity of Nilgiri martens leads researchers to believe that the impact on the local honey industry is minimal. (Kumara and Singh, 2007)
Nilgiri martens are listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List and is listed under Appendix III under the CITES appendices. "This species is listed as Vulnerable because its entire extent of occurrence is less than 20,000 km², its distribution is severely fragmented, and there is continuing decline in the extent and quality of its forest habitat in the six discontinuous national parks where is occurs. In addition, remaining populations are severely fragmented due to a continuing decline in the extent and quality of habitat (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, 2012)". ("Martes gwatkinsii", 2012)
Amanda Webb (author), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Christopher Yahnke (editor), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Laura Podzikowski (editor), Special Projects.
uses sound to communicate
living in landscapes dominated by human agriculture.
young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state; they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.
Referring to an animal that lives in trees; tree-climbing.
having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.
an animal that mainly eats meat
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
in mammals, a condition in which a fertilized egg reaches the uterus but delays its implantation in the uterine lining, sometimes for several months.
animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.
forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.
an animal that mainly eats fruit
An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.
An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.
offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).
having the capacity to move from one place to another.
This terrestrial biome includes summits of high mountains, either without vegetation or covered by low, tundra-like vegetation.
the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.
an animal that mainly eats all kinds of things, including plants and animals
found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.
rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.
communicates by producing scents from special gland(s) and placing them on a surface whether others can smell or taste them
breeding is confined to a particular season
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
associates with others of its species; forms social groups.
a wetland area that may be permanently or intermittently covered in water, often dominated by woody vegetation.
uses touch to communicate
Living on the ground.
the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.
uses sight to communicate
reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.
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