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World Cup: Slovenia’s Beech Marten (Martes foina)

Posted on Jun 24, 2010 by in Carnivores, Theme Weeks | 4 comments

Martes foina

Number 0323

The World Cup continues and so do the mammals! Today we have a beech marten from Slovenia. Also called the stone marten, the beech marten is pretty widespread in Europe and Asia. It lives in forests, nests in cozy crevices and hollows, and eats rodents, birds and their eggs, and berries. In researching the beech marten, I learned a new word: commensal, as in “Commensal beech martens may cause damage to roofs, insulation, and electrical wiring and pipes in houses and cars,” which is a quote from the beech marten’s page on the IUCN Red List. The dictionary says that a commensal relationship is one in which one organism benefits and the other is neither benefited nor harmed (hmm, I think I may have been in a commensal relationship myself once or twice), which confused me because it seems like damage to roofs, insulation, and electrical wiring could qualify as harm. Basically, in biology, commensal animals are those who live among humans and may annoy us but don’t get in the way too much, if I’m understanding it correctly. Rats, for example, are commensal with us. And Wikipedia points out that the mites that live in our eyelash follicles are an example of commensalism, too! Oh good!

Slovenia came in third in Group C, ahead of Algeria but behind the U.S. and England. The team was formed after Slovenia split from Yugoslavia in 1991, and this was their second World Cup.

Group C Results

In Group C, we had the European beaver from England, the American badger from the U.S., the Barbary macaque from Algeria, and today’s Slovenian beech marten. Tough group! The beaver is a rodent, but a tough one, and even though beech martens do eat rodents, I don’t think they eat rodents that weigh ten times more than they do. Badgers are notoriously vicious. I usually give an edge to primates, but the Barbary macaque is kind of small and herbivorous. So I think the mammalian Group C goes in the exact order the soccer one did, and the two mammals continuing on to the Round of 16 are:

American Badger (USA)
and
European Beaver (England)

4 Comments

  1. That guy looks like he is about to come out of the page and get to know you. I am confused about the commensal relationships. I assume the beech marten benefits from tearing up the roof? But isn’t the owner of the roof harmed?

  2. Thanks, Grace! That’s a great compliment. I love that! I wasn’t too clear about the commensal relationships. The beech marten benefits from hanging out around humans, and in the process of that, it will sometimes destroy property. Humans, I guess, aren’t harmed by the relationship directly—they don’t make us sick or give us parasites that could kill us or anything like that. I think it’s kind of like the roofs and wires are collateral damage. Or maybe it doesn’t count as harm because it’s not the organism itself—the human—that’s harmed, but the property. Maybe a biologist who reads this will weigh in, but that’s how I understand it.

  3. Dear mom,
    I love you so much. You did such a good job on all of the mammals we drew together.

  4. Thanks, Coco! I love you too, and you did a good job as well.

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