Being sprayed by the oil produced by the anal glands of the striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis) is known to be strongly aversive to potential predators, which quickly learn to not attack in the future. However, many trap lures use oil from skunk anal glands as an ingredient intended to attract carnivores. This paradoxical nature of skunk oil being both attractive and aversive to potential predators has yet to be investigated, leaving a gap in the understanding of how predators respond to the visual aposematic warning signal of the skunk’s pelt in combination with the possibly attractive chemical components of its oil. In this study, camera traps with baited models with either black-and-white or brown pelage, either with or without skunk oil, were deployed in natural areas around Southern California. Results suggest despite its previous use as an attractant for carnivores, the skunk’s oil acts as a long distance deterrent while pelt coloration functions as a short distance warning signal.
|Commitee:||Carter, Ashley, Lord, Kathryn|
|School:||California State University, Long Beach|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||MAI 55/06M(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Ecology, Conservation, Zoology, Behavioral Sciences|
|Keywords:||Aposematism, Behavioral ecology, Coyote, Predator prey, Skunk, Urban wildlife|
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