Abstract

The global decline of apex predators has allowed mesopredator populations to increase, a phenomenon described by the mesopredator release hypothesis (MRH). Some mesopredator species, however, are of conservation concern, such as the eastern spotted skunk (Spilogale putorius). To assess camera deployment strategies and survey for the presence of eastern spotted skunks in the Appalachian Foothills, I conducted baited camera trap surveys in Kentucky, a state for which systematic methodological data is lacking. I surveyed 64 sites across 10 counties over more than 1,200 trap days from October 2017 to April 2018. I detected approximately 400 individual mesopredators of 9 different species. I evaluated effects of bait type (sardines vs. sardines + fatty acid scent tablet) and deployment duration (2 week vs. 4 week) by comparing mesopredator activity and species richness per trap day and species accumulation curves across deployment strategies. I found no significant differences in the effect of bait type nor deployment duration on mesopredator detections per trap day (P > 0.05), however, there was a significant interaction between bait type and deployment duration on species richness per trap day(P < 0.05). Accumulation curves tended to reach asymptote more quickly in the deployment in traps using sardines and scent tablets than those using only sardines. My results suggest a 2-week duration with no scent tablet yielded results comparable to more time and resource-intensive options, however species-specific trapping rates must be considered when surveying as eastern spotted skunks were not recorded in my study until 6-21 days after deployment.

Semester/Year of Award

Spring 2018

Mentor

Luke E. Dodd

Department/Professional Affiliation

Department of Biological Sciences

Access Options

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Honors Scholars

Department

Biological Sciences

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Figure 1. Example of a baited camera trap deployment used for surveying mesopredators in the Appalachian Foothills, October 17-April 2018.

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Figure 2. Example of a bait station used in camera trap surveys in the Appalachian Foothills, October 2017-April 2018.

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Figure 3. Map of outlined counties in Kentucky with mesopredators detected October 2017-April 2018.

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Figure 4. Mean mesopredator detections per trap day by deployment duration and bait type in the Appalachian Foothills region of Kentucky, October 2017- April 2018.

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Figure 5. Mean mesopredator species richness per trap day by deployment duration and bait type in the Appalachian Foothills region of Kentucky, October 2017- April 2018.

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Figure 6. Mesopredator species accumulation curves of camera trap surveys conducted over two weeks baited with sardines only in the Appalachian Foothills of Kentucky, October 2017-April 2018.

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Figure 7. Mesopredator species accumulation curves of camera trap surveys conducted over two weeks baited with sardines and fatty acid scent tablets (FAST) in the Appalachian Foothills of Kentucky, October 2017-April 2018.

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Figure 8. Mesopredator species accumulation curves of camera trap surveys conducted over four weeks baited with sardines only in the Appalachian Foothills of Kentucky, October 2017-April 2018.

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Figure 9. Mesopredator species accumulation curves of camera trap surveys conducted over four weeks baited with sardines and fatty acid scent tablets (FAST) in the Appalachian Foothills of Kentucky, October 2017-April 2018.

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Figure 10. Mean mesopredator species accumulation curves of camera trap surveys conducted in the Appalachian Foothills of Kentucky, October 2017-April 2018.

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