Polar Biology

, Volume 30, Issue 8, pp 1047–1058 | Cite as

The naked fox: hypotrichosis in arctic foxes (Alopex lagopus)

  • Pall Hersteinsson
  • Gudmundur Georgsson
  • Stefán Adalsteinsson
  • Eggert Gunnarsson
Original Paper

Abstract

We describe the manifestations and occurrence of hypotrichosis in arctic foxes and compare it to the Samson character in red foxes. During 1979–2005, we collected carcasses of both normal and hypotrichotic arctic foxes from foxhunters in Iceland for macroscopic and microscopic examination and study of demography. We obtained live pups for breeding and transmission experiments in captivity during 1985–1992. Placental scar counts showed that hypotrichotic vixens were more fertile than normal vixens and generally all their pups were hypotrichotic. Fertility in hypotrichotic vixens was positively correlated with winter air temperature but not in normal vixens. Hypotrichotic males were less likely to breed than normal males and probably had a higher mortality rate than either hypotrichotic females or normal foxes. Hypotrichosis can be transmitted between adult foxes. Microscopic examination revealed prominent chronic inflammation of the dermis in hypotrichotic specimens, degenerative changes, vacuolisation and necrosis of hair follicles. Hypotrichosis persists in coastal areas with mild winters and may become more common with global warming.

Notes

Acknowledgments

we would like to thank all the foxhunters who throughout the study sent in jaws of arctic foxes and whole carcasses for study and accompanying information on the animals. We thank three anonymous reviewers for constructive comments and criticisms. This study was partly financed by the Science Research Council of Iceland.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pall Hersteinsson
    • 1
  • Gudmundur Georgsson
    • 2
  • Stefán Adalsteinsson
    • 3
    • 4
  • Eggert Gunnarsson
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of IcelandReykjavíkIceland
  2. 2.Institute for Experimental PathologyUniversity of IcelandReykjavikIceland
  3. 3.The Nordic Gene BankAgricultural University of NorwayAasNorway
  4. 4.ReykjavikIceland

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