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Conservation of the Island Spotted Skunk

Released: 2017
Bolas, E., D. van Vuren, K. Crooks, C. Boser, E. Boydston. 2017. Conservation of the Island Spotted Skunk. The Western Section of The Wildlife Society Annual Meeting, Reno, NV. 6-10 February 2017.

Two of the northern California Channel Islands, Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa, are unusual in that they support two endemic carnivores, the island fox (Urocyon littoralis) and the island spotted skunk (Spilogale gracilis amphiala). The relationship between these two sympatric species is not well understood; however long-term population trends indicate the possibility of interference competition with negative impacts on the island spotted skunk. Currently, skunks on both islands appear to be in decline based on incidental captures during annual island fox live-trapping.

We report here on on-going research on both islands to examine the cause of this decline. Remote cameras are currently deployed as an independent assessment of skunk presence to determine if incidental captures of skunks during fox live-trapping are an accurate estimate of the relative abundance of skunks. Additionally, previous research on the skunk and fox on Santa Cruz Island indicates an overlap in habitat use, home range, and diet, suggesting the potential for intense interspecific competition. We are performing microhabitat assessments at all live-trapping sites to be compared with past capture histories for both species. These data can identify the extent of niche overlap between the two, as well as possible refugia available to the skunks.
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