Den boxes as a tool for pine marten Martes martes conservation and population monitoring in a commercial forest in Scotland.
The pine marten Martes martes is a woodland specialist that favours above-ground arboreal den sites to rest and breed in. Sheltered, elevated den sites are particularly crucial for meeting the needs of breeding females and a scarcity of suitable sites may be a critical constraint upon pine marten populations. An artificial den box for pine martens was designed and 50 boxes were installed in part of Galloway Forest, southwest Scotland, in order to (a) increase the availability and diversity of suitable den sites for breeding female martens and (b) aid monitoring of the marten population. The boxes were monitored for signs of use once a year. A proportion of the boxes was occupied by martens every year and the boxes were used by breeding females to raise their young. The den boxes can be implemented as a habitat enhancement and conservation tool, particularly in commercial forests, and used to monitor marten populations and breeding success. We recommend that conservation programmes for pine martens should consider the installation of den boxes as a habitat enhancement and monitoring tool.