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JenniferCheatham

Biology1610LabResearchPaper
Monday7:00PM

JenniferCheatham
Title:Pathogendynamicsandmorbidityofstripedskunksintheabsenceofrabies
Introduction:Ithasbecomeextremelyobviousthatparasiteshavetheabilitytoaffect
populationsofcommunities,howeverunderstandingtheparasitesroleandeffectinthese
relationshipshasbeenlackinginunderstanding.Itwasunclearonwhethertheparasites
werethemaincauseofdeathorifitsimplycontributedtopathogenshavingamore
seriouseffect,environmentalfactorsnotbeingtoleratedaswellornutritionrelated
conditions.Thisstudyfocusesontherelationshipofvariouspathogensandthestriped
skunkandwhetherskunkdeathscouldbelinkedtoasinglepathogenoramultitudeof
pathogensthataffecttheskunkpopulation.Thiswouldbeaccomplishedby;identifying
microandmacroparasitesinskunkpopulationsthroughserologyandnecropsy,reporting
deathofskunksregardlessofotherproximatecauses,andresearchthedynamicsof
parasitesinskunkpopulations.
MaterialsandMethods:SkunksweremonitoredintwoIllinoislocations:GlacialPark,
inMcHenryCountyduring19982001andNedBrownForestPreserveinCookCounty
during19992004.Skunkswerecapturedduringspringandautumnwithboxlivetraps
(81x25x30cm,model108TomahawkLiveTrapCo)baitedwithcommercialcannedcat
food.Skunkswerealsocapturedwithhandnetsduringnightspotlightsessionsatthe

sites.Capturedskunkswerecoveredwithatarptopreventsprayingandimmobilized
withaninjectionof10mgofTelazol(FortDodgeAnimalHealth)andthenmarkedwith
eartags(MonelNo.1,NationalBandandTagCompany)andsubsampleswere
radiocollared(AdvancedTelemetrySystems,Inc)foreachlocation.Skunkswereplaced
intotwoagegroups;<12monthswerejuvenilesand>12monthswereadultsbasedoff
toothwearandreproductivetraits.Bloodsampleswerecollectedfromcephalicor
saphenousveinandallowedtoaggluminatefor24hoursthencentrifugedfor15min.
Serumwasstoredat20C.
Theserologywasusedtoidentifycanincedistempervirus(CDV),canineparvovirus
(CPV),Leptospirainterrogansandtoxoplasmagondii.CDVandCPVaretransmitted
directlyandleptospriaisenvironmentalsothepredictionwasthatCDVandCPVwould
bedetectedmoreoften.
Theradiocollarshadmortalitysensorsandbodieswerecollectedasquicklyaspossible
onceidentified.Sometimesbodiescouldnotberecoveredbecauseitcouldntbe
determinediftheskunkwashibernatingoractuallydeceasedorthebodyhadalready
startedtodecompose.ThecarcassesweresubmittedtotheUniversityofIllinois
ZoologicalPathologyProgramattheUniversityofIllinois.Necropsieswereperformedto
determineparasites,infectionsorotherdiseases.CarcasseswerealsotestedforCDV,
DPV,leptospirosisandtoxoplasmosisanddatawasrecordedincludedtheageand
seasons.
Results:85bloodsampleswereobtainedandthefollowingwasdiscovered:55%were

positiveforCDVwithlittlevarianceinregardstosex/agegroupsandseasons.17%was
positiveforLeptospirainterroganswithpossibledifferencesinageandseasoncategories;
higherfrequenciesoccurredinspringandjuveniles.
38carcasseswereautopsiedandmanyhadotherillnessthatmayhavecontributedto
deathincluding;variousformsofpneumonia,especiallybronchointerstitial(62%)and
lymphoplasmaticpneumonia(43%),eightmoderateandfiveseverecases.14ofthe
carcasseswerehitbycarsorkilledbypredators.
Discussion:Theresultsleadtothediscoverythatnosinglepathogenwasanobvious
populationlimitingfactor.Thereweresignsthatthepathogenscould,attimes,regulate
andaffectthesurvivalrateofskunksbutnoneofwhichspecificallyarecausingadecline
inthepopulationrate.ThepredictionthatCDVandCPV,whicharedirectlytransferred,
wouldhaveahigherpositiverateintheskunksseemtobecorrect,buttheystilldonot
seemtobeadirectreasoninlimitationoftheskunkpopulation.
Conclusion:Asinglepathogencouldnotbeidentifiedasamajorfactorinskunkdeath.
Skunksareexposedtoawiderangeofpathogens,whichmayplayasmallpartin
populationnumbers,however,overallitseemstobeacombinationofenvironmental
factorsthataffectthespecies.

Bibliography:http://jwildlifedis.org/doi/abs/10.7589/0090355846.2.335