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Short-Term Fruiting Phenology Affects the Diet of an Omnivorous Carnivoran, the Tsushima Marten Martes melampus tsuensis

Okawara, Yoko, Nakanishi, Nozomi, Izawa, Masako
Mammal study 2020 v.45 no.1 pp. 49-61
Diospyros kaki, Martes, autumn, feces, foraging, fruit consumption, fruiting, fruits, omnivores, persimmons, phenology, spring
The availability of fruits, but not animal prey, to consumer species is strictly limited to the fruiting period of specific plant species. This study aimed to identify the short-term fruit consumption of an omnivorous carnivoran in relation to daily phenological changes in the number of ripe fruits of multiple fruiting species during peak fruiting seasons (spring and fall). We collected the scats of the Tsushima marten (Martes melampus tsuensis) and documented changes in their diet according to the fruiting phenology of plants (spring and fall: five and three fruit species, respectively) at 1–2-day intervals. Four fruiting species were foraged by martens as soon as they started fruiting, while the other four fruiting species were rarely consumed. The high overlap in the fruiting period of different fruiting species in the study area resulted in martens preferentially feeding on certain fruits. Unlike the other fruiting species, persimmon (Diospyros kaki) exhibited an asynchronous fruiting pattern, with martens foraging on this plant intermittently throughout the fall. In conclusion, martens adjusted the type and quantity of fruits they consumed in relation to the daily fruiting patterns of different plant species and the extent of overlap in the fruiting period across fruiting species.