New Zealand Journal of Ecology (2005) 29(1): 45- 52

Lack of movement of stoats (Mustela erminea) between Nothofagus valley floors and alpine grasslands, with implications for the conservation of New Zealand's endangered fauna

Research Article
Des H. V. Smith  
I. G. Jamieson *
  1. Department of Zoology, University of Otago, P.O. Box 56, Dunedin, New Zealand
*  Corresponding author

Little is known about the movement of stoats in alpine grassland, where several species of native birds, reptiles and invertebrates are potentially at risk from predation. Radio-tracking, live trapping and tracking tunnel techniques were used to sample stoats in two adjacent habitats to determine whether the home range of stoats in beech forest valley floors extends into neighbouring alpine grasslands in the Ettrick Burn Valley, Fiordland. If this is the case then trapping stoats in the more easily accessible beech forest valley floors might serve to protect endangered species inhabiting the adjacent but more remote alpine grasslands. Between December 2000 and March 2001, 415 radio locations were collected on 15 stoats and none were observed to make any significant movements between the two habitats. Stoats were active in alpine grasslands, and trapping in the adjacent beech forest valley would not have caught those stoats during the time-frame of this study. Further research is needed to determine long term impacts of trapping in beech forest on stoats in alpine grasslands. During the timeframe of this research stoats were more abundant in beech forest than in alpine grasslands, and tracking tunnels showed this trend to be consistent at other sites.