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1 January 2006 Extrinsic Effects on Long-term Population Trends of Virginia Opossums and Striped Skunks at a Large Spatial Scale
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Abstract

Long-term data on wildlife populations are needed to elucidate the relative importance of extrinsic factors on population dynamics; however, such data are rare for most species such as medium-sized mammals. We present long-term population indices for Virginia opossums (Didelphis virginiana) and striped skunks (Mephitis mephitis) in Illinois from 1975 to 1998. Annual road-kill indices (RKI) and spotlight indices were correlated for opossums, but not for skunks. Opossum indices exhibited an overall increase (P < 0.01) during the study, but there was no trend since 1983. Skunk RKI exhibited a negative slope (P < 0.01), but this was influenced by a fluctuation in RKI during the late 1970s and there has been no overall trend since. Mean winter temperatures (t − 1) were positively correlated with opossum RKI, but were not correlated with skunk RKI. Estimated harvest (t = 0) was positively related to skunk RKI, and effective harvest was positively correlated with opossum RKI. Annual rabies cases in skunks were positively (P < 0.001) correlated with skunk RKI. These results suggest there are interspecific differences in long-term population dynamics, and associated limiting factors, between these species at large spatial scales.

STANLEY D. GEHRT, GEORGE F. HUBERT Jr., and JACK A. ELLIS "Extrinsic Effects on Long-term Population Trends of Virginia Opossums and Striped Skunks at a Large Spatial Scale," The American Midland Naturalist 155(1), 168-180, (1 January 2006). https://doi.org/10.1674/0003-0031(2006)155[0168:EEOLPT]2.0.CO;2
Accepted: 1 July 2005; Published: 1 January 2006
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