The Skunk Ape

The Skunk Ape: An ecological
perspective on the life history and
interspecific interactions of a
Jay Munyon
*Disclaimer: This presentation is a work of fiction to be used as a model for
legitimate presentations by students of PCB 3043L – Ecology Lab
• Cryptozoology is the study of rare and enigmatic
species. The term translates to “the study of
hidden animals”. (McDaniels 1985)
• The importance of these species is not fully
– Lack of field observation and often questionable
• What role do these species play in food web
structure and overall ecosystem status? (Smith
• Range
– North – Tampa
– East – Central FL
– South – Big Cypress
(Moreau 2008)
• No documented
observations within
Life History
• By understanding the
longevity and reproductive
output of the skunk ape, we
can estimate potential
environmental impacts of
the species.
• A surge or decline in the
skunk ape population could
result in significant impacts
on the flora and fauna of Big
Cypress and the Everglades
Species Interactions
• Herbivory
– Observed eating palmetto berries
– Pine cones (Big Cypress only)
– Skunk ape may be the primary means of dispersal for these species
• Predation
– No direct observation
– Dental molds from wound on single cow (Sarasota Gazette 1996)
Cascading Effects
• Stable population
– Currently not a significant factor in ecological
monitoring or restoration projects
• Population increase
– Changing climate and increased suburban
sprawl could change the range of this
• More suitable climate and increased population
size could directly impact food web
Data and Results
• Skunk apes are thought to live for ~42
(Smith 2002)
• Optimal age of sexual maturity is ~15
(McDaniels 1985)
• Estimations of intrinsic growth rate are
between -0.56 and 0.87
(William et al. 2010)
Data and Results
• Similar to concerns regarding the increasing
Burmese python population, many researchers
fear an increase in the skunk ape population
could have devastating effects on the
populations of both large herbivores and
– Deer, alligators, the endangered Florida Panther, and
wading bird populations
(Smith 2002, William et al. 2010, Johnson and
Masters 1999)
• The population appears to be stable.
• Potential means of dispersal for saw
palmetto and pine trees.
• Limited information regarding predation,
but could become apex predator.
References (how to cite literature: journal
articles, newspapers, and books)
Johnson, L.G. and U.S. Masters. Low Density Populations. London, UK:
JWRC Publishers, 1999
McDaniels, J.C. 1985. Life history of the skunk ape cryptospecies. J. of
Mystic Creatures 2: 3-9.
Mesa, Jose. “Cattle attacked by ape man” Sarasota Gazette. [Sarasota, FL]
June 21, 1988 p.6
Moreau, H.G. 2008. Distribution of Florida cryptospecies. J. of Animal
Distribution 88: 26-34.
Smith, S.C. 2002. Effect of Myakka Skunk Ape on local flora and fauna.
Cryptozoologia 28: 258-267.
William, J.M, E.R. Michael, M. Brian, and M.E. Rodesson. 2010. A review of
the life history of the skunk ape. Annual Review of Strange Encounters 189:
Additional links
• Footprints (documentary by FIU students)
• Part 1
• Part 2