Shining the spotlight on small carnivores
Smaller carnivores seldom get the conservation attention given to large carnivores, despite recent global analyses that have found they are declining at a similar rate to large carnivores. We are attempting to shift the narrative that all small to mid-ranking carnivores or mesocarnivores "releasing" (expanding their range and causing destruction to ecosystems) by highlighting their conservation need and the key role they play within ecosystems. In particular, we have provided 6 reasons why smaller carnivores are better sentinels for managers to focus monitoring on than large carnivores. This type of "middle-out" thinking drives how we investigate the structure of carnivore communities, and how we design projects to better understand the ecology of these smaller carnivores.
Related popular articles:
Why weasels and worms should represent the movement to conserve the natural world - Vox
Weasels, not pandas, should be the poster animal for biodiversity loss - The Conversation
A small carnivore crisis - The Wildlife Professional
Recent Related Scientific Papers:
Marneweck, C., B.L. Allen, A. Butler, E. Do Linh San, S.N. Harris, A.J. Jensen, E.A. Saldo, M.J. Somers, K. Titus, M. Muthersbaugh, A. Vanak, S.W. Yu, and D.S. Jachowski. 2022. Middle-out ecology: Small carnivores as sentinels of global change. Mammal Review 52:471-479.
Marneweck, C., A.R. Butler, L. Gigliotti, S. Harris, A. Jensen, M. Muthersbaugh, B. Newman, E. Saldo, K. Titus, S.W. Yu, and D.S. Jachowski. 2021. Shining the spotlight on small mammalian carnivores: global status and threats. Biological Conservation 255:109005.
Jachowski, D.S., A. Butler, R.Y.Y. Eng, L. Gigliotti, S. Harris and A. Williams. 2020. Identifying mesopredator release in multi-predator systems: a review of evidence from North America. Mammal Review 50:367-381.
We love a challenge, and prior to research accomplished by our team and others over the past decade, the eastern spotted skunk was one of the least understood carnivores in North America. We have conducted a series of studies on this species at multiple field sites from West Virginia to Florida, with our current research focusing on an intensive multi-year study in North Carolina.
We have also led conservation and research for this species nationally, founding the Eastern Spotted Skunk Cooperative Study Group in 2015 and serving as an advisor for the newly formed Island Spotted Skunk Study Group in California.
Project collaborators: US Geological Survey, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, Virginia Tech, Nemours Wildlife Foundation, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service
Related popular articles:
Eastern Spotted Skunk Cooperative Study Group recognized - The Wildlife Society
Disease, predation causing Appalachian spotted skunk decline - The Wildlife Society
Shining the spotlight on spotted skunks - Wildlife in North Carolina
Recent Related Scientific Papers:
Jachowski, D.S., C.J. Marneweck, C. Olfenbuttel, and S.N. Harris. In press. Support for the size-mediated sensitivity hypothesis within a diverse carnivore community. Journal of Animal Ecology.
Dukes, C.G., D.S. Jachowski, S.N. Harris, M.L. Allen, L.E. Dodd, A.J. Edelman, S.H. LaRose, R.C. Lonsinger, and D.B. Sasse. 2022. A review of camera trapping methodology for eastern spotted skunks (Spilogale putorius). Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management e1944..
Marneweck, C., C. Forehand, C. Waggy, S. Harris, T. Katzner and D.S. Jachowski. 2022. Nocturnal light-specific temporal partitioning facilitates coexistence for a small mesopredator, the eastern spotted skunk. Journal of Ethology 40:193-198.
Detweiler, G.P., S.N. Harris, C. Olfenbuttel, and D.S. Jachowski. 2022. First tracking of an eastern spotted skunk (Spilogale putorius) litter from birth to independence. Mammalia.
Harris, S.N., J.L. Froehly, S.L. Glass, C.L. Hannon, E.L. Hewett Ragheb, T.J. Doonan, and D.S. Jachowski. 2021. High density and survival of a native small carnivore, the Florida spotted skunk (Spilogale putorius ambarvalis) in south-central Florida. Journal of Mammalogy 102:743-756.
Butler, A., A. Edelman, R.Y.Y. Eng, W.M. Ford, S. Harris, E. Thorne, C. Olfenbuttel, and D.S. Jachowski. 2021. Demography of the Appalachian eastern spotted skunk (Spilogale putorius putorius). Southeastern Naturalist 20:95-109.
Jachowski, D.S., and A. Edelman. 2021. Advancing small carnivore research and conservation: the Eastern Spotted Skunk Cooperative Study Group model. Southeastern Naturalist 20:1-12.
Harris, S.N., C. Olfenbuttel, and D.S. Jachowski. 2021. Canine distemper outbreak in a population of eastern spotted skunks (Spilogale putorius). Southeastern Naturalist 20:181-190.
Harris, S.N., and D.S. Jachowski. 2021. First documentation of above-ground den structures of the Florida spotted skunk. Southeastern Naturalist 20:225-233.
Harris, S.N., T.J. Doonan, E.L. Hewett Ragheb, and D.S. Jachowski. 2020. Den site selection of the Florida spotted skunk. Journal of Wildlife Management 84:127-137.
Eng, R.Y.Y., and D.S. Jachowski. 2019. Summer rest site selection by Appalachian eastern spotted skunks. Journal of Mammalogy 100:1295-1304.
Eng, R.Y. and D.S. Jachowski. 2019. Evaluating detection and occupancy probabilities of eastern spotted skunks in the southern Appalachians. Journal of Wildlife Management 83:1244-1253.
Coastal island bobcats
Over the past several years we have been interested in the ecology of bobcats in coastal ecosystems. We have used a variety of approaches (camera traps, fecal DNA analysis, etc.) to relate land use and management conditions with bobcat and other carnivore occurrence and behavior.
Beginning in 2021 we are initiating a multi-year project to assess the ecology of bobcats on islands - particularly Kiawah Island where there are concerns regarding population declines. Kiawah island is home to one of the most famous and well-studied bobcat populations, and we will be analyzing long-term historical datasets and conducting new field studies of bobcats to evaluate the demographic and behavioral responses of bobcats to land use change and exposure to rodenticides.
Project website: Island Bobcat Research
Project collaborators: Kiawah Island, Clemson University, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, Tom Yawkey Wildlife Center
Related Popular Articles:
Positive trends among bobcat population on Kiawah Island - ABC news 4
Where are the weasels?
Weasels are notoriously hard to study. If you have seen one in the wild, you know how fast and cryptic they can be. Perhaps that is part of the reason why their decline has gone unnoticed. Following our review of North America weasels in 2021, we created a weasel study group that involves biologists across the US collaboratively trialing new approaches to monitoring for weasels across their range. New tools could help us better understand where weasels persist, trends in their populations, and reasons behind declines over the past several decades across many parts of their historical ranges.
Related Popular Articles:
What Happened to North America's Weasels? - Meateater
New Clemson University-led study reveals a declining weasel population in North America - Post and Courier
Local Weasel Population Difficult to Assess as National Study Finds Species in Decline - EcoRI
World's smallest carnivore, the least weasel, is going extinct - and scientists are scratching their heads trying to figure out why - Daily Mail
Weasel out: Clemson-led study shows population of pint-sized predators dwindling - Clemson University
Related scientific papers:
Jachowski, D.S., R. Kays, A. Butler, A.M. Hoylman, and M.E. Gompper. 2021. Tracking the decline of weasels in North America. PLoS ONE 16:e0254387.
Black-footed ferret recovery
Since 1999 our lab group has been involved in trying to recover the most critically endangered carnivore in North America, the black-footed ferret. Our research to aid in ferret recovery has spanned a diversity of topics, including the ecology of black-footed ferrets:
conserving and restoring prairie dog populations they rely on, particularly in the face of disease (sylvatic plague)
and most recently human attitudes towards ferrets and prairie dogs:
Jachowski, D.S. 2014. Wild Again: The Struggle to Save the Black-footed Ferret. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA.
Other related scientific papers
Jachowski, D.S. 2023. Why conservation cloning won't save endangered species. BioScience 73:5.
Eads, D.A., D.S. Jachowski, J.J. Millspaugh and D.E. Biggins. 2012. Importance of lunar and temporal conditions for spotlight surveys of adult black-footed ferrets. Western North American Naturalist 72:179-190.
Eads, D.A., D.S. Jachowski, D.E. Biggins, T.M. Livieri, M.R. Matchett and J.J. Millspaugh. 2012 Resource selection models are useful in predicting distributions of black-footed ferrets in prairie dog colonies. Western North American Naturalist 72:206-215.
Jachowski, D.S. 2011. The Sentimental Ecologist. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 9:575-576.
Eads, D.A., J.J. Millspaugh, D.E. Biggins, T.M. Livieri, and D.S. Jachowski. 2011. Post-breeding resource selection by adult black-footed ferrets in Conata Basin, South Dakota. Journal of Mammalogy 92:760-770.
Eads, D.A., D.E. Biggins, J.J. Millspaugh, D.S. Jachowski and T.M. Livieri. 2011. Evaluation of a black-footed ferret resource utilization function model. Journal of Wildlife Management 75:1155-1163.
Eads, D.A., D.E. Biggins, D.S. Jachowski, T.M. Livieri, J.J. Millspaugh and M. Forsberg. 2010. Morning ambush attacks by black-footed ferrets on emerging prairie dogs. Ethology, Ecology and Evolution 22:1-8.
Jachowski, D.S. and J.M. Lockhart. 2009. Reintroducing black-footed ferrets to the Great Plains of North America. Small Carnivore Conservation 41:58-64.
Jachowski, D.S., J.J. Millspaugh, D.E. Biggins, T.L. Livieri and M.R. Matchett. 2008. Implications of black-tailed prairie dog spatial dynamics on black-footed ferrets. Natural Areas Journal 28:14-25.
Jachowski, D.S. 2007. Notes on black-footed ferret detectability and behavior. The Prairie Naturalist 39:97-102.