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).

Citation: Cuarón, A.D., Reid, F. & Helgen, K. 2008. Spilogale gracilis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T136797A4340932. . Downloaded on 28 June 2016.
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