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Optimization of Camera-trap Surveys for Eastern Spotted Skunks and Other Meso-mammals in the Appalachian Foothills

Courtney R. Hayes1, Kelly Watson2, and Luke E. Dodd1,*

1Department of Biological Sciences, Eastern Kentucky University, Richmond, KY 40475. 2Department of Geosciences, Eastern Kentucky University, Richmond KY 40475. *Corresponding author.

Southeastern Naturalist,Volume 20, Special Issue 11 (2021): 252–261

Abstract
We conducted baited camera-trap surveys in eastern Kentucky during October 2017–April 2018 to assess the efficacy of survey duration and attractant type in detecting Spilogale putorius (Eastern Spotted Skunk) and other Appalachian meso-mammals. We surveyed 16 sites across 10 counties over more than 1200 trap-nights. We observed meso-mammals of 9 species, including 3 records of Eastern Spotted Skunks. Our results indicated that a 2-week survey duration with sardine bait yielded meso-mammal detection rates, richness estimates, and species accumulation curves comparable to a 4-week survey duration with sardine bait; the addition of fatty acid scent tablets did not affect results. However, Eastern Spotted Skunks were not recorded until an average of 15 days after deployment, suggesting that species-specific trapping rates must be considered in the duration of camera-trap surveys.

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