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Effects of Seasonality and Bait Type on Capture Efficacy and Sex Ratio of Plains Spotted Skunks

J. Clint Perkins1,*, Kamren P. Jefferson2, Matthew H. Hamilton2, Robert C. Dowler2, and Richard D. Stevens1,3

1Department of Natural Resources Management, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX 79409. 2Department of Biology, Angelo State University, San Angelo, TX 76909. 3Natural Science Research Laboratory of the Museum of Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX 79409. *Corresponding author.

Southeastern Naturalist,Volume 20, Special Issue 11 (2021): 241–251

Abstract
Improper or inefficient survey designs are commonly cited as underlying issues contributing to failure to detect rare or understudied species. Researchers primarily rely on information obtained when species were widely distributed and abundant to inform research design. Recently, interest in Spilogale putorius (Eastern Spotted Skunk) has piqued due to declining populations and an uncertain conservation status. To address knowledge gaps on the effects of seasonality, bait choice, and survey design on capture efficacy and sex ratio, we surveyed Spilogale putorius interrupta (Plains Spotted Skunk) in the Katy Prairie region of Texas with 2 survey designs. Our systematic survey design provided 2 bait types, a 5-day survey length, and a grid array of traps, while our casual live-trapping surveys had 1 bait type with varied survey length and trap array. From February 2019 through August 2020, we captured 29 unique Plains Spotted Skunks 49 times. Analysis of systematic survey data indicates that seasonality and bait type did not affect capture success. Additionally, surveys conducted in the summer resulted in similar overall capture rates but higher female capture rates when compared to other seasons. Our finding of similar capture rates among seasons is in contrast to previous reports that suggest reduced capture efficacy of spotted skunks during the summer. These results improve the current knowledge of techniques for capturing spotted skunks and offer more efficient means for researchers to assess populations..

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