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June 2001

Release Date: June 12, 2001

ASU Biologist Receives Parks/Wildlife Grant to Study Skunks

Angelo State University has received a two-year $43,000 grant from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for a biology faculty member to study three species of skunks at San Angelo State Park.

Dr. Robert C. Dowler, the Tippett Professor of Biology at ASU, is the principal investigator on the project. The two-year project will receive $21,500 annually for the research.

The project will seek to better understand the ecology of three skunk species the striped skunk, hog-nosed skunk and western spotted skunk where they co-exist in west central Texas. The project will place an emphasis on developing management recommendations for the hog-nosed skunk.

Little research has been done on the striped skunk in Texas and even less has been done on the hog-nosed and western spotted skunks. The research project will use radiotelemetry to track the animals and to compare home ranges, seasonal activity patterns and den sites for the three species.

The researchers hope to determine whether habitat preferences and foraging patterns overlap or are exclusive of one another for each of the three species. The research will also measure the relative numbers of the three species at the park and examine habitat associations.

There have been concerns that populations of western spotted skunks and hog-nosed skunks may be declining in some parts of Texas. Understanding the habitat associations should benefit future management decisions for the three species, and especially the hog-nosed skunk, in this area and in other regions of Texas.

The bulk of the research will be done at the 7,700-acre San Angelo State Park where the skunks will be captured and fitted with radio transmitters and ear tags so they can be tracked and studied.