Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Demography of the Appalachian Spotted Skunk (Spilogale putorius putorius)

August 31, 2021

Spilogale putorius (Eastern Spotted Skunk) is a small, secretive carnivore that has substantially declined throughout the eastern United States since the mid-1900s. To better understand the current status of Eastern Spotted Skunks, we studied survival and reproduction of the S. p. putorius (Appalachian Spotted Skunk) subspecies across 4 states in the central and southern Appalachian Mountains from 2014 to 2020. Using encounter histories from 99 radio-collared Appalachian Spotted Skunks in a Kaplan–Meier known-fate survival analysis, we calculated a mean annual adult survival rate of 0.58. We did not find support for this survival rate varying by sex, predator cover (canopy cover and topographic ruggedness), or climate. Compared to estimates of survival from previous research, our data suggest that Appalachian Spotted Skunk survival is intermediate to the S. p. interrupta (Plains Spotted Skunk) and S. p. ambarvalis (Florida Spotted Skunk) subspecies of Eastern Spotted Skunk. We located 11 Appalachian Spotted Skunk natal dens and estimated mean litter size to be 2.8 juveniles per female. We used a Lefkovitch matrix to identify the most important demographic rates and found that adult survivorship had the largest impact on the population growth rate. These results provide important demographic information for future Eastern Spotted Skunk population viability analyses and can serve as a baseline for future comparative assessments of the effects of management interventions on the species.

Publication Year 2021
Title Demography of the Appalachian Spotted Skunk (Spilogale putorius putorius)
DOI 10.1656/058.020.0sp1110
Authors Andrew R. Butler, Andrew J. Edelman, Robin Y. Y. Eng, Stephen N. Harris, Colleen Olfenbuttel, Emily D. Thorne, W. Mark Ford, David S. Jachowski
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Southeastern Naturalist
Index ID 70227087
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Coop Res Unit Leetown