Oral presentation- Open Session 12th International Mammalogical Congress

Here, there and everywhere: Spatial ecology of the red fox Vulpes vulpes (#500)

Zea Walton 1 , Morten Odden 1 , Tomas Willebrand 1 , Gustaf Samelius 2
  1. Innland Norway University of Applied Sciences, Koppang, Stor-Elvdal, Norway
  2. Snow Leopard Trust, Seattle, Washington, United States of America

Human land use changes can exert great influence on ecological systems, altering species distributions, animal behaviors, movements and survival at individual and population levels. The plasticity of the red fox and its ability to benefit from anthropogenic landscape changes, as well as changes in landscape productivity, has enabled it to exploit increasingly northern latitudes, increasing concern that the red fox is becoming a driving species directly impacting northern food webs. In response, we captured and outfitted red foxes with GPS/GSM collars, to improve understanding of red fox movement ecology. We have detailed movement data from 102 collared foxes from four study areas along a landscape gradient in Sweden and Norway. Our study highlights resident foxes using much larger areas than previously presumed and indicates that exploratory excursions are common among red foxes. Excursions were observed in all four study areas, lasting for 1-3 days and were typically less than 10 km, but could sometimes be longer than 50 km. Preliminary results further indicate that dispersal distances of foxes vary along a latitude gradient, with observed distances of 25-50 km in southern areas, while those in northern areas have reached 295 km. These spatial patterns demonstrate that red foxes can cover large areas in short time periods. The extent and potential of red fox movements may have been previously underestimated. Developing appropriate management will involve improving our understanding of how changing land use, movement ecology and dispersal patterns alter the spatial structure of red fox populations and facilitates range expansions.