, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 330-336

Inter- and intraspecific competition between the fox species Alopex lagopus and Vulpes vulpes: an evaluation trial under penned conditions

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Abstract

This study compared competition capacity and dominance relations between arctic foxes (Alopex lagopus) and red foxes (Vulpes vulpes). Experiments were carried out in semi-natural earthen floor enclosures using farm-bred colour types of both species (blue fox and silver fox) as subjects. Results of the dominance scoring and open field behaviour after weaning in August-September showed that blue foxes dominated over silver foxes. Thereafter, the situation gradually became reversed and silver foxes were dominant during the breeding and whelping seasons. Housing both species together from weaning produced more curious animals as compared to when these species were placed in common quarters after the autumn equinox. In the case of blue foxes, the male dominated highly over all females. In silver foxes, the difference in dominance between the sexes was, however, less pronounced. The most dominant individuals in the study groups were typically among the heaviest. Breedings and whelpings succeeded better in silver than in blue foxes. However, none of litters born survived more than one week. The present results support the conclusion that when both fox species are housed together, Vulpus vulpus tends to dominate over Alopex lagopus.

Received: 22 March 1996/Accepted: 30 June 1996