Lynx vs. Marten?


Can lynx, marten and logging all get along in the same woods?

That’s the question The Nature Conservancy and partners at the University of Maine are trying to answer in a 40-mile stretch of woods along Maine’s St. John River.

The challenge lies in the different habitat needs of each animal:

  • Martens like to cruise through the treetops and therefore need the latticework of tree cover that large tracts of older forest create.
  • Lynx, on the other hand, prefer younger, denser stands of new growth where they can stalk their prey.

But it’s not just about the lynx and marten. Managing for these two “umbrella species” would meet the needs of 85 percent of other vertebrates in the forest.

So how to manage the forest for timber and keep both the lynx and marten — and everyone else — happy?

To help solve the puzzle, researchers in the St. John River forest are using satellite imagery, aerial photography and land-use data to create a better picture of how these animals use the forest — and how logging practices impact their use.

“It once seemed impossible to meet the very different needs of these two species while maintaining sustainable forestry, but that’s exactly what these maps and models are helping us do,” says Bill Patterson, director of the Conservancy’s Northern Maine program.

(Image: Lynx. Source: Angela Fuller.)

If you believe in the work we’re doing, please lend a hand.


  1. Thanks for sharing and it appears things are moving in the right direction. I do hope that the use of satellite imagery, aerial photography and land-use data will allow for the preservation of optimal ecosystem conditions. I am a firm follower of the need to preserve the health of the entire system as a means to manage and conserve individual species and resources.

    Perhaps we should look to Professor Stan Rowe’s view of the world. The basis of his contention is that the world has established an organizational hierarchy based on complexity: cells contained in tissues, tissues contained in organs, organs contained in organisms, and organisms contained in ecosystems.

    Meeting a set of minimal requirements does not always ensure a healthy system. We need to understand not only what the minimal conditions are, but we need to know what the optimal conditions are on a hierarchal basis (with a little help from technology here in the St. John River’s case). That is the only way to ensure true ecosystem sustainability.

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