Literature Review: Two Mammal Studies

by Carl Strang

Our common animals are familiar enough that we may think we know all about them. There always is something new to learn, however, and this week I share two examples from recent publications.

Raccoons are not as solitary as we thought.

Raccoons are not as solitary as we thought.

Prange, Suzanne, Stanley D. Gehrt, and Stephanie Hauver. 2011. Frequency and duration of contacts between free-ranging raccoons: uncovering a hidden social system. J. Mammal. 92:1331-1342.

They used radio collars to track social associations. Though raccoons are solitary most of the time, males form long-term social groups by maintaining regular contacts, each female associates with one such group, and female-female contacts are short term. This is referred to as a fission-fusion social system.

The second study looked at the genetic geography of skunks.

The second study looked at the genetic geography of skunks.

Barton, Heather D., and Samantha M. Wisely. 2012. Phylogeography of striped skunks (Mephitis mephitis) in North America: Pleistocene dispersal and contemporary population structure. J. Mammal. 93:38-51.

They looked at mitochondrial genetics of North American skunks in relation to glacial refuge history. Today’s skunks show 4 main groups apparently isolated by glaciers and subsequently spreading. Illinois skunks show the greatest measured mix, about half from east coast-Southeast sources, a little over a quarter from the central South (Arizona to Louisiana), and the rest from the Intermountain West (no representation from the fourth, west coast group).

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