Spilogale gracilis 


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Carnivora Mephitidae

Scientific Name: Spilogale gracilis
Species Authority: Merriam, 1890
Common Name(s):
English Western Spotted Skunk
Taxonomic Notes: Based on patterns of mtDNA variation in Mustelidae, Dragoo and Honeycut (1997) recommended that skunks (Mephitis, Conepatus, Spilogale) and the Oriental Stink Badger (Mydaus) be separated as a distinct family (Mephitidae). Wozencraft (2005) recognized the family Mephitidae.

This species has been included in S. putorius by some authors (Wozencraft, 1993). Mead (1968) argued that S. gracilis and possibly S. leucoparia, both of which were included in S. putorius by Van Gelder (1959) and Hall (1981), are reproductively isolated from eastern populations and therefore should be considered distinct species. Jones et al. (1992), Baker et al. (2003), and Wozencraft (2005) recognized S. gracilis and S. putorius as separate species.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Cuarón, A.D., Reid, F. & Helgen, K.
Reviewer(s): Duckworth, J.W. (Small Carnivore Red List Authority) & Schipper, J. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)
This species is listed as Least Concern as they are widely distributed in a variety of habitats including human altered habitats. The species may be declining in parts of the United States but not at a rate fast enough to be threatened.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: The geographic range of the western spotted skunk extends from central Mexico through the western United States to British Columbia (Rosatte, 1987).
Countries occurrence:
Mexico; United States
Upper elevation limit (metres): 2500
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Populations of western spotted skunks have been known to fluctuate in numbers and the animal is generally not common on the United States plains (Polder, 1968; Choate et al., 1974). Few studies have been published on the home range, population density, and mortality of spotted skunks (Howard and Marsh, 1982). Crabb (1948) found that the western spotted skunk in Iowa maintained a home range of 64.8 ha at densities of 2.2 individuals/km2.
Current Population Trend: Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented: No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: The spotted skunk has been recorded in a big spectrum of habitats varying from open lowlands to mountainous areas (Baker and Baker, 1975), streams to rocky places, beaches to human buildings and other disturbed areas, chaparral among others (Rosatte, 1987; Verts et al., 2001). The species has been found at elevations of 2,500 m in California (Orr, 1943). Doty and Dowler (2006) reported that M. mephitis and S. gracilis coexist in habitats of west-central Texas that provide sufficient cover for S. gracilis. Its an omnivorous species, feeding primarily on insects and small mammals (Ewer, 1973; Kurten and Anderson, 1980) and carrion, berries, fruits and other (Bailey, 1936; Clark and Stromberg, 1987; Maser et al. 1981).
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Humans have been the main cause of mortality for spotted skunks, especially as a result of automobile roadkills. Spotted skunks are also trapped, shot, and poisoned during predator control tactics (Rosatte, 1987). The pelts of both eastern and western spotted skunks represent an insignificant fraction of the modern fur trade. Pesticides present a significant threat over portions of the range.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Spilogale g. amphialus is considered to be a subspecies of special concern by the state of California (Crooks, 1994).

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.4. Forest - Temperate
suitability: Suitable  major importance:Yes
3. Shrubland -> 3.4. Shrubland - Temperate
suitability: Suitable  major importance:Yes
4. Grassland -> 4.4. Grassland - Temperate
suitability: Suitable  major importance:Yes
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.1. Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Rivers/Streams/Creeks (includes waterfalls)
suitability: Suitable  major importance:Yes
0. Root -> 6. Rocky areas (eg. inland cliffs, mountain peaks)
suitability: Suitable  major importance:Yes
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.1. Artificial/Terrestrial - Arable Land
suitability: Suitable  major importance:Yes
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.2. Artificial/Terrestrial - Pastureland
suitability: Suitable  major importance:Yes
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.3. Artificial/Terrestrial - Plantations
suitability: Suitable  major importance:Yes
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.5. Artificial/Terrestrial - Urban Areas
suitability: Suitable  major importance:Yes

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over entire range
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
4. Transportation & service corridors -> 4.1. Roads & railroads
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

5. Biological resource use -> 5.1. Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals -> 5.1.1. Intentional use (species is the target)
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

5. Biological resource use -> 5.1. Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals -> 5.1.2. Unintentional effects (species is not the target)
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

♦  Wearing apparel, accessories
 Local : ✓   National : ✓ 

Bibliography [top]

Bailey, V. 1936. The mammals and life zones of Oregon. North American Fauna 55: 1-416.

Baker, R. H. and Baker, M. W. 1975. Montane habitat used by the spotted skunk (Spilogale putorius) in Mexico. Journal of Mammalogy 56: 671–673.

Baker, R. J., Bradley, L. C., Bradley, R. D., Dragoo, J. W., Engstrom, M. D., Hoffman, R. S., Jones, C. A., Reid, F., Rice, D. W. and Jones, C. 2003. Revised checklist of North American mammals north of Mexico, 2003. Occasional Papers, Museum of Texas Tech University 229: 23 pp.

Choate, J. R., Fleharty, E. D. and Little, R. J. 1974. Status of the spotted skunk, Spilogale putorius, in Kansas. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 76: 226–233.

Clark, T. W. and Stromberg, M. R. 1987. Mammals in Wyoming. University of Kansas, Natural History Museum.

Crabb, W. D. 1948. The ecology and management of the prairie spotted skunk in Iowa. Ecological Monographs 18: 201–232.

Crooks, K. R. 1994. Demography and status of the island fox and the island spotted skunk on Santa Cruz Island, California. Southwestern Naturalist 39: 257–262.

Doty, J. B. and Dowler, R. C. 2006. Denning ecology in sympatric populations of skunks (Spilogale gracilis and Mephitis mephitis) in west-central Texas. Journal of Mammalogy 87: 131-138.

Dragoo, J. W. and Honeycutt, L. 1997. Systematics of mustelid-like carnivores. Journal of Mammalogy 78: 426-443.

Ewer, R. 1973. The carnivores. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York.

Hall, E.R. 1981. The Mammals of North America. John Wiley and Sons, New York, USA.

Howard, W. H. and Marsh, R. E. 1982. Spotted and hog-nosed skunks. In: J. A. Chapman and G. A. Feldhammer (eds), Wild Mammals of North America, pp. 1147. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.

Jones Jr., J. K., Hoffman, R. S., Rice, D. W., Jones, C., Baker, R. J. and Engstrom, M. D. 1992. Revised checklist of North American mammals north of Mexico, 1991. Occasional Papers, Museum of Texas Tech University 146: 1-23.

Kurten, B. and Anderson, E. 1980. Pleistocene mammals of North America. Columbia University Press, New York, USA.

Maser, C. , Mate, B. R., Franklin, J. F. and Dryness, C. T. (eds). 1981. Natural history of Oregon coast mammals. pp. 496 pp.. Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station.

Mead, R. A. 1968. Reproduction in western forms of the spotted skunk (genus Spilogale). Journal of Mammalogy 49: 373-390.

Orr, R. T. 1943. Altitudinal record for the spotted skunk in California. Journal of Mammalogy 24: 270.

Polder, E. 1968. Spotted skunk and weasel populations den and cover usage in northeast Iowa. Proceedings of the Iowa Academy of Science 75: 142-146.

Rosatte, R. C. 1987. Striped, Spotted, Hooded, and Hog-nosed Skunk. In: M. Novak, J. A. Baker, M. E. Obbard and B. Malloch (eds), Wild furbearer management and conservation in North America, pp. 1150 pp.. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and the Ontario Trappers Association, Ontario, Canada, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Van Gelder, R. G. 1959. A taxonomic revision of the spotted skunks (genus Spilogale). Buletin of the American Museum of Natural History 117: 229-392.

Verts, B. J., Carraway, L. N. and Kinlaw, A. 2001. Spilogale gracilis. Mammalian Species 674: 1-10.

Wozencraft, W.C. 1993. Order Carnivora. In: D.E. Wilson and D.M. Reeder (eds), Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference. Second Edition, pp. 279-344. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC, USA.

Wozencraft, W.C. 2005. Order Carnivora. In: D.E. Wilson and D.M. Reeder (eds), Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference. Third Edition, pp. 532-628. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC, USA.

Citation: Cuarón, A.D., Reid, F. & Helgen, K. 2008. Spilogale gracilis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T136797A4340932. . Downloaded on 24 June 2016.
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