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Addressing a Knowledge Gap in Spilogale Disease Ecology: Skunk Cranial Worm, Skrjabingylus chitwoodorum, in Spilogale putorius interrupta

Summer H. LaRose1,*, Damon B. Lesmeister2,3, and Matthew E. Gompper4

1School of Natural Resources, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211. 2Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331. 3Pacific Northwest, Research Station, USDA Forest Service, Corvallis, OR 97331. 4Department of Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Ecology, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM 88003. *Corresponding author.

Southeastern Naturalist,Volume 20, Special Issue 11 (2021): 173–180

Spilogale putorius interrupta (Plains Spotted Skunk) has been documented to host a variety of macroparasites, but the impacts of these infections are largely unknown. We emphasize the importance of incorporating disease-ecology components into ongoing field-research studies by revisiting previously collected data on infection by the metastrongylid nematode Skrjabingylus chitwoodorum (Skunk Cranial Worm) in an Arkansas population of Plains Spotted Skunks that was monitored as part of a large-scale field study. Our reevaluation of the infection data suggests estimates of prevalence based on fecal flotations may underestimate true prevalence and that positive infection status may be correlated with smaller home-range size in female Plains Spotted Skunks. We encourage further research to better understand effects of this and other parasites on Spotted Skunk population vital rates and distribution.

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