Predicted distribution of plains spotted skunk in Arkansas and Missouri
The plains spotted skunk (Spilogale interrupta) is of conservation concern because of widespread population declines and is being considered for listing under the United States Endangered Species Act. Although the taxon is relatively rare and difficult to study, recent research and reports provided some information about spotted skunks in Arkansas and Missouri, USA. Using this information, we employed full and simplified multivariate species distribution models to evaluate cover type associations and identify regions of high predicted presence for plains spotted skunks. The simple model contained percent forest and percent development within 5 km, land cover category, and distance to water. Percent forest within 5 km was the most important variable based on permutation importance in both models, indicating that plains spotted skunk habitat may persist in contiguous forest at the landscape scale. Regions predicted to have high presence occurred in northern, western, and southern Arkansas and southern Missouri, totaling >300,000 ha. The resulting plains spotted skunk distribution map can be used for research and management efforts in areas of high probability of occurrence, and future statewide survey efforts may validate our results.