The Birds, The Bees, and...The Skunks?

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It's the first day of spring! Don't be surprised if you see young skunks scampering around California's inland marshes with an ear tag ID and a lightweight GPS collar -- it's for science.

USGS researchers are using ear tag IDs and lightweight GPS collars to map out the movements of skunks and raccoons within California marshes, where many of these animals prey upon duck eggs.

To inform conservation of migratory waterfowl that depend on California’s inland marshes, USGS scientists are asking questions about skunk and raccoon behavior. How far and how fast do skunks and raccoons travel each night? What types of food do they prefer? Which parts of the landscape do they use to navigate the mazelike marsh, and find their way to waterfowl nests?

The answers to these questions can assist resource managers with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and California Department of Fish and Wildlife in managing wetland habitats and improving the survival of duck eggs.

We shared this news story through USGS social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter). Explore the project in detail at the webpage Breeding and Wintering Ecology of Waterfowl

Young skunk with ear tag ID

Photo of a skunk with an ear tag ID. (Credit: Sarah Peterson, USGS Western Ecological Research Center. Public domain.)

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Date published: October 30, 2017
Status: Active

Breeding and Wintering Ecology of Waterfowl

Western U.S. wetlands provide critical habitat for wintering and breeding waterfowl in California. WERC's Dr. Josh Ackerman is working toward collecting data to understand factors influencing duck nest success, to improve and restore breeding habitat for resident duck populations in California, and understand composition of predator communities. To learn more about how USGS WERC is...

Contacts: Josh Ackerman