Oral Presentation- Symposium 12th International Mammalogical Congress

Preliminary results of the impact of human land use and landscape productivity on the density and dynamics of red fox in Norway (#83)

Torfinn Jahren 1 , Morten Odden 1 , John Linell 2 , Manuela Panzacchi 2
  1. Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences, Koppang, Hedmark, Norway
  2. Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, Trondheim, Norway

In the boreal forest, the red fox (Vulpes vulpes) is a key species due to its many strong food web linkages and its exploitation of niches that form in the wake of human activities. A range expansion and population increase of red fox have caused major concern in Scandinavia, primarily due to imposed threats to a number of prey and competitor species. Here, we synthesize 12 years of transect snow-track data covering 27,000 km2 to identify factors associated with their distribution and population dynamics. By the use of Bayesian hierarchical regression models, we evaluate the effects of landscape productivity and climate gradients as well as anthropogenic subsidization on red fox population size and density dependent growth structure. We found that landscapes with high human settlement density and high amounts of remains from moose (Alces alces) hunting held higher densities of red fox. Population mean return time and partial rate correlation function implied first order population dynamics, and the structure of density dependent population growth was associated with the amount of agricultural land in the landscape. Carrying capacity increased and populations were more stable in high-level agricultural areas, whereas density dependent population growth was more prominent in low-level agricultural areas. We conclude that human land-use is a dominant driver of red fox population dynamics in the boreal landscape and potential effects of regional-scale landscape productivity are overridden. We further argue that future research should focus on intrinsic, density dependent, factors such as social structure (e.g. competition and territoriality), fecundity and dispersal.