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Hystrix It. J. Mamm. (n.s.) 20(1) (2009): 79-82







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1Studio Professionale Fontana-Gianaroli-Lanzi, Via Togliatti 1/V, 42048 Rubiera (RE), I- taly; *Corresponding author, e-mail: studio@studio-geco.it

2 via Nazionale per Carpi, 1033, 41010 Modena, Italy

3via Grieco, 1, 42019 Scandiano (RE), Italy

Received 19 February 2009; accepted 13 May 2009

RIASSUNTO - Sull’impiego delle trappole a passaggio (tracking-plates) per l’accertamento della presenza della puzzola (Mustela putorius). Applicando analisi stati- stiche multivariate, è stata testata la validità di un metodo di identificazione della puzzola (Mustela putorius) basato sul rilevamento di quattro misure standard delle impronte, ottenu- te tramite tracking plates. Le analisi hanno riguardato una collezione di 131 impronte, in gran parte ottenute da puzzole, furetti (Mustela putorius furo vel M. furo) e faine (Martes foina) in cattività. I risultati confermano l’elevato potere delle tecniche di analisi impiegate nella separazione dei generi Martes e Mustela. L’utilizzo di tracking-plates si conferma un efficace metodo da impiegare nelle indagini di campo.

Parole chiave: Mustela putorius, impronte, distribuzione, analisi discriminante, regressione logistica

Tracking-plates, thanks to the advantages they provide (limited field crew and non- invasiveness) in comparison to traditional forms of capture, have been frequently used, particularly in North America, in the study of a large number of taxa, including mustelids (Orloff et al., 1993; Zielinski and Kucera, 1995; Nams and Gillis, 2003). In 2004 we applied this methodological ap- proach in the northern Appennines (Parco del Frignano) in order to detect the pres- ence of the European polecat (Mustela putorious). We found 23 polecat-like foot- prints, from which four standard measures were obtained (Fontana et al., 2007). Using statistical analysis it was possible to clearly distinguish between the Mustela and Martes genera, while the differences be-

tween the European polecat and the ferret (Mustela putorius furo vel M. furo) were less clear. We suggested that it would be opportune to carry out a nationwide census of the facilities that host specimens of European polecats, stone martens (Martes foina) and ferrets in order to generate a footprint database useful for further analy- sis.

During 2008, we carried out this investiga- tion throughout Italy, involving both parks and rescue centres. We were able to obtain footprints from three stone martens (two males and one female), six ferrets (two males and four females), and three Euro- pean polecats (two males and one female).

The aim of the present study was to verify the robustness of the findings obtained by 79


Fontana et al.

Fontana et al. (2007) by using a larger and more detailed sample of footprints col- lected from known species and by integrat- ing statistical analyses. Including the 23 footprints collected in the field in our pre- vious study and attributed to the European polecat (Fontana et al., 2007), we consi- dered a total of 131 footprints which were clear enough to collect with our standard measures used by Fontana et al. (2007).

Collected data underwent both discriminant analysis (Roessler and Ungerer, 2006) and logistic regression (Hosmer and Leme- show, 2000). Data processing was per- formed using SPSS 10.0.1 for Windows.

Discriminant analysis (Table 1), performed

with the stepwise method and using three groups of categorical dependent variables (European polecat, ferret and stone mar- ten), correctly classified 84.7% of cases.

The footprints of European polecats were almost always correctly classified (97.4%

of cases), whilst the risk of confusing the two taxa of the genus Mustela persisted. A forward stepwise logistic regression analy- sis was performed, grouping together Eu- ropean polecats and ferrets in a single cate- gory, in order to further verify the efficacy of the biometric measures used for discri- minating the samples collected.

The resulting logistic model (Table 2) which best describes our data set includes Table 1 - Results of the discriminant analysis (standard measurements of mustelids foot- prints: A = from the distal edge of the foremost toe to the back edge of the palm pad; B = maximum width; C = height of palm pads; D = width of palm pads, see Fontana et al., 2007).


A-B-C-D 1 2

Eigenvalue 5.31 0.02

Variance (percent) 99.50 0.5

Percent cumulative 99.50 100

Canonic correlation 0.92 0.16

Wilks Lambda 0.15 0.98

F² 237.16 3.12

Degrees of freedom (d.f.) 8 3

P <0.01 0.21

Standardized coefficients 1 2

A 0.74 -0.69

B 0.31 -0.28

C 0.24 1.15 D 0.11 -0.93 CLASSIFICATION RESULTS

N Polecat Ferret Stone marten

Polecat 36 29 7 0

Ferret 56 12 44 0

Stone marten 39 1 0 38



Use of tracking-plates for polecats

Table 2 - Results of the logistic regression analysis (for abbreviations of the morphometric measurements of footprints see Table 1).


F² d.f. P

-2 Log-Likelihood 140.43 4 <0.001

Hosmer and Lemeshow test 0.89 8 0.99

Cox and Snell R² 0.66

Nagelkerke R² 0.93


Wald P Exp(B) 95% CI for Exp(B)

A 27.13 <0.001 12.58 11.67 - 13.49

B 14.52 <0.001 5.46 4.72 - 6.19

C 16.63 <0.001 7.38 6.51 - 8.25

D 7.66 <0.001 -3.17 -3.98 - -2.36


N Mustela Stone marten

Mustela 92 92 0

Stone marten 39 0 39

all four independent variables and correctly distinguishes the footprints of the two groups in all cases. Considering that, cur- rently, in Italy there is no population of ei- ther ferrets or ferret-European polecat hybr- ids (Genovesi and De Marinis, 2003), this additional information confirms the poten- tial of tracking plates for outlining the dis- tribution of the polecat and as a preliminary tool to plan ecological studies carried out through time-expensive techniques, as, for example, radiotracking (Striglioni, 1998).


Fontana R., Lanzi A., Gianaroli M., Amo- rosi F. and Lelli E. 2007. Utilization of tracking plates to verify the presence of the European polecat (Mustela pu- torius) in the Northern Apennines. Hy- strix It. J. Mamm. (n.s.), 18 (1): 91-97.

Genovesi P. and De Marinis A.M. 2003.

Mustela putorius (Linnaeus, 1758). In:

Boitani L.,Lovari S. and Vigna Tag- lianti A. (eds), Fauna d’Italia Vol.

XXXVIII. Mammalia III, Carnivora - Artiodactyla, 128-132.

Hosmer D. and Lemeshow S. 2000. Ap- plied Logistic Regression. Second Edi- tion. A Wiley-Interscience Publication, John Wiley & Sons Inc., New York, NY.

Nams V.O. and Gillis E.A. 2003. Changes in tracking tube use by small mammals over time. Journal of Mammalogy, 84(4): 1374-1380.

Orloff S.G., Flannery A.W. and Belt K.C.

1993. Identification of San Joaquin kit fox (Vulpes macrotis mutica) tracks on aluminum tracking plates. California Fish and Game, 79(2):45-53.

Roessler I. and Ungerer A. 2006. Kommen- tierte Formelsammlung multivariater statistischer Verfahren. Available from 81


Fontana et al.

http://www.prof-roessler.de/Dateien/Sta- tistik/multivariat.pdf.

Striglioni F. 1998. Organizzazione spazia- le, uso, selezione dell’ambiente e atti- vità di puzzola europea (Mustela puto- rius) e faina (Martes foina) simpatri- che in ambiente rurale appenninico a-

bruzzese. Tesi di dottorato, Università di Bologna, 117 pp.

Zielinski W.J. and Kucera T.E. 1995.

American Marten, Fisher, Lynx, and Wolverine: survey methods for their detection. USDA-Forest Service, Gen- eral Technical Report PSW GTR-157.



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