Spatial organization of Molina's hog-nosed skunk (Conepatus chinga) in two landscapes of the Pampas grassland of Argentina

Castillo, D. F.; Lucherini, M.; Luengos Vidal, E. M.; Manfredi, C.; Casanave, E. B.
March 2011
Canadian Journal of Zoology;Mar2011, Vol. 89 Issue 3, p229
Academic Journal
We radio-tracked 16 individuals (6 males, 10 females) of the little known Molina's hog-nosed skunk (Conepatus chinga (Molina, 1782)) and compared home-range dynamics, movement rates, and densities between a protected area and a landscape fragmented by agriculture. The mean home-range size (95% fixed kernel) was 166.7 ha (SD = 107.5 ha), without significant differences between areas. Home-range size varied significantly between males (mean = 243.7 ha, SD = 76.5 ha) and females (mean = 120.4 ha, SD =77.6 ha). Overlap between home range and core area was extensive between and within sexes in the protected area and more limited in the cropland area. Mean distance traveled between two consecutive resting sites was 269.5 m (SD = 365 m) and did not differ between areas, although movements were greater for males than females. Distance moved was influenced by seasons, being greater during the cold period. Finally, density estimates were consistently greater at the protected area. We argue that home-range size in Molina's hog-nosed skunks is an inherent species property, whereas population density and territoriality are more flexible parameters that could reflect how the ecosystem state was affected. In our study, the greater dispersion of food patches in the cropland area than in the protected area may be the major factor influencing these parameters. Nous avons suivi par radio 16 individus (6 mâles et 10 femelles) de la moufette de Gibson (Conepatus chinga (Molina, 1782)), une espèce mal connue, et nous avons comparé la dynamique de leur domaine vital, leur taux de déplacement et leur densité dans une zone protégée et un paysage fragmenté par l'agriculture. La taille moyenne du domaine vital (95 % du noyau fixe) est de 166,7 ha (ÉT = 107,5 ha sans différence significative entre les zones. Les domaines vitaux varient significativement entre les mâles (moyenne = 243,7 ha, ÉT = 76,5 ha) et les femelles (moyenne = 120,4 ha, ÉT = 77,6 ha). Le chevauchement des domaines vitaux et de leur noyau central est important entre les sexes et pour chacun des sexes dans les zones protégées, mais moins marqué dans la zone agricole. La distance moyenne des déplacements entre deux sites consécutifs de repos est de 269,5 m (ÉT = 365 m) et ne diffère par en fonction de la zone, bien que les déplacements soient plus longs chez les mâles que chez les femelles. La distance de déplacement est influencée par la saison, et plus importante durant la saison froide. Enfin, les densités estimées sont constamment plus élevées dans la zone protégée. Nous pensons que la taille du domaine vital chez la moufette de Gibson est un caractère inhérent à l'espèce, alors que la densité de population et la territorialité sont des variables plus flexibles qui peuvent refléter l'état de l'écosystème. Dans notre étude, la plus grande dispersion des taches alimentaires dans la zone agricole que dans la zone protégée peut être le facteur principal à influencer ces variables.


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