An assessment of the genetic structure of a striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis) population across an urban landscape




Brashear, Wesley

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Striped skunks act as reservoirs of many zoonotic diseases and are highly adept at persisting in urbanized landscapes in relatively high densities. A better understanding of the interaction between skunks and the urban environment could aid in the development of management techniques for epidemiological outbreaks, as well as provide information on wildlife responses to urbanization-induced habitat fragmentation. We studied the genetic structure of a population of striped skunks in an urban environment, assessing the presence of subpopulation structuring, sex-biased philopatry, and natal habitat-biased dispersal. We failed to detect any significant population clustering or evidence of natal habitat-biased dispersal, but spatial autocorrelation analyses did reveal patterns of limited dispersal (< 2 km) and female-biased philopatry. Implications for wildlife and disease management personnel involve the implementation of geographically expansive protocol in wildlife population and disease monitoring and management.



striped skunks, urbanized landscapes, epidemiological outbreaks, zoonotic diseases, urbanization-induced habitat fragmentation, philopatry