Home range analysis of sympatric striped skunks and plains spotted skunks in southeastern Texas



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In eastern Texas, striped skunks (Mephitis mephitis) occur sympatrically with plains spotted skunks (Spilogale interrupta), a smaller-bodied mesocarnivore facing population decline due to habitat loss and urbanization. I examined home range size of co-occurring striped and plains spotted skunks on Katy Prairie, a portion of the West Gulf Coast ecoregion in southeastern Texas. My study site, Warren Ranch, Katy Prairie Conservancy, is managed for cattle production and prairie conservation, and it is a mosaic of native prairie, minimally managed pastures, and heavily grazed pastures. From February 2019 to June 2021, I fitted striped and spotted skunks with GPS-transmitters programmed to record spatial locations 4 times per 24-hour period. I recorded spatial fixes sufficient for seasonal home range analysis (n ≥ 30 locations per season), and current analysis on 20 striped skunks (10M: 10F) and 20 spotted skunks (11M: 9F) is completed. Cumulatively, data collected represent 36 striped skunk seasonal home ranges (21M: 15F) and 48 spotted skunk seasonal home ranges (29M: 19F). Using kernel utilization distribution and minimum convex polygons, I determined mean seasonal 95% isopleth home ranges of striped skunks (297 ± 66 ha) and spotted skunks (196 ± 65 ha). Results indicate that male and female spotted skunks have similar sized home ranges and that there is no seasonal variation in spotted skunk home range size. Furthermore, no difference in home range size was observed between striped and spotted skunk on the Katie Prairie. For striped skunks, males exhibited larger home ranges and had an increase in home range size during the winter and spring seasons.