Advertisement

Polar Biology

, Volume 37, Issue 3, pp 333–345 | Cite as

Natal den selection by sympatric arctic and red foxes on Herschel Island, Yukon, Canada

  • Daniel Gallant
  • Donald G. Reid
  • Brian G. Slough
  • Dominique Berteaux
Original Paper

Abstract

In the twentieth century, red fox (Vulpes vulpes) expanded into the Canadian Arctic, where it competes with arctic fox (Vulpes lagopus) for food and shelter. Red fox dominates in physical interactions with the smaller arctic fox, but little is known about competition between them on the tundra. On Hershel Island, north Yukon, where these foxes are sympatric, we focused on natal den choice, a critical aspect of habitat selection. We tested the hypothesis that red fox displaces arctic fox from dens in prey-rich habitats. We applied an approach based on model comparisons to analyse a 10-year data set and identify factors important to den selection. Red fox selected dens in habitats that were more prey-rich in spring. When red foxes reproduced, arctic fox selected dens with good springtime access, notably many burrows unblocked by ice and snow. These provided the best refuge early in the reproductive season. In the absence of red foxes, arctic foxes selected dens offering good shelter (i.e. large isolated dens). Proximity to prey-rich habitats was consistently less important than the physical aspects of dens for arctic fox. Our study shows for the first time that red foxes in the tundra select dens associated primarily with prey-rich areas, while sympatric arctic foxes do not. These results fit a model of red fox competitively interfering with arctic fox, the first detailed study of such competition in a true arctic setting.

Keywords

Competition Den Reproduction Habitat selection Herschel Island Vulpes lagopus Vulpes vulpes Yukon 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We thank G. Szor, F. Racine, F. Taillefer, A. Fehr, H. Slama, A. Kenney, E. Hofer, C. J. Krebs, and B. S. Gilbert for assistance in the field. We thank park rangers (E. McLeod, L. J. Meyook, J. McLeod, D. Arey, S. McLeod, P. Foisy) and chief ranger R. Gordon for logistical support in the field. Funding for this research comes from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (grants to D. Berteaux, Alexander Graham Bell CGS-D graduate scholarship to D. Gallant), the International Polar Year program of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, the Network of Centers of Excellence of Canada, ArcticNet, the Wildlife Conservation Society Canada (D. Reid), the Polar Continental Shelf Program (PCSP), the Canada Research Chairs Program, the Aurora Research Institute, the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, the Centre d’Études Nordiques (CEN), the Northern Scientific Training Program (Indian and Northern Affairs Canada), and the Université du Québec à Rimouski.

Supplementary material

300_2013_1434_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (178 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 179 kb)

References

  1. Ambrose HW (1972) Effect of habitat familiarity and toe-clipping on rate of owl predation in Microtus pennsylvanicus. J Mammal 53:909–912CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Anderson DR, Burnham KP (2002) Avoiding pitfalls when using information-theoretic methods. J Wildl Manag 66:912–918CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Andriashek D, Kiliaan HPL, Taylor MK (1985) Observations on foxes, Alopex lagopus and Vulpes vulpes, and wolves, Canis lupus on the off-shore sea ice of northern Labrador. Can Field Nat 99:86–89Google Scholar
  4. Angerbjörn A, Tannerfeldt M, Bjärvall A, Ericson M, From J, Norén E (1995) Dynamics of the arctic fox population in Sweden. Ann Zool Fenn 32:55–68Google Scholar
  5. Angerbjörn A, Ströman J, Becker D (1997) Home range pattern in arctic foxes in Sweden. J Wildl Res 2:9–14Google Scholar
  6. Anthony RM (1996) Den use by arctic foxes (Alopex lagopus) in a subarctic region of western Alaska. Can J Zool 74:627–631CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Batzli GO, Pitelka FA, Cameron GN (1983) Habitat use by lemmings near Barrow, Alaska. Hol Ecol 6:255–262Google Scholar
  8. Burnham KP, Anderson DR (2002) Model selection and multimodel inference, 2nd edn. Springer, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  9. Cameron AC, Trivedi PK (2005) Microeconometrics: methods and applications. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Chesemore DL (1969) Den ecology of the arctic fox in northern Alaska. Can J Zool 47:121–129CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Dalén L, Elmhagen B, Angerbjörn A (2004) DNA analysis on fox faeces and competition induced niche shifts. Mol Ecol 13:2389–2392PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Dalerum F, Tannerfeldt M, Elmhagen B, Becker D, Angerbjörn A (2002) Distribution, morphology and use of arctic fox Alopex lagopus dens in Sweden. Wildl Biol 8:185–192Google Scholar
  13. Danilov DN (1961) Den sites of the Arctic fox (Alopex lagopus) in the east part of Bol’Shezemel’Skaya tundra. Prob North 2:223–229Google Scholar
  14. Duchesne D, Gauthier G, Berteaux D (2011) Habitat selection, reproduction and predation of wintering lemmings in the Arctic. Oecologia 167:967–980PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Eberhardt WL (1977) The biology of arctic and red foxes on the north slope. Dissertation, University of AlaskaGoogle Scholar
  16. Eberhardt LE, Garrott RA, Hanson WC (1983) Den use by arctic foxes in northern Alaska. J Mammal 64:97–102CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Ehrich D, Carmichael L, Fuglei E (2012) Age-dependent genetic structure of arctic foxes in Svalbard. Polar Biol 35:53–62CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Eide NE, Nellemann C, Prestrud P (2001) Terrain structure and selection of denning areas by arctic foxes on Svalbard. Polar Biol 24:132–138CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Elmhagen B, Tannerfeldt M, Angerbjörn A (2002) Food-niche overlap between arctic and red foxes. Can J Zool 80:1274–1285CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Fay FH, Stephenson RO (1989) Annual, seasonal, and habitat-related feeding habits of the arctic fox (A. lagopus) on St. Lawrence Island, Bering Sea. Can J Zool 67:1986–1994CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Fine BA (1980) Ecology of arctic foxes at Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. Dissertation, University of AlaskaGoogle Scholar
  22. Frafjord K (1993) Food habits of arctic foxes (Alopex lagopus) on the western coast of Svalbard. Arctic 46:49–54Google Scholar
  23. Frafjord K (1995) Summer food habits of arctic foxes in the alpine region of southern Scandinavia, with a note on sympatric red foxes. Ann Zool Fenn 32:111–116Google Scholar
  24. Frafjord K (2000) Do arctic and red foxes compete for food? Z Für Säugetierkd 65:350–359Google Scholar
  25. Frafjord K (2003) Ecology and use of arctic fox Alopex lagopus dens in Norway: tradition overtaken by interspecific competition? Biol Conserv 111:445–453CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Frafjord K, Becker D, Angerbjörn A (1989) Interactions between arctic and red foxes in Scandinavia—predation and aggression. Arctic 42:354–356Google Scholar
  27. Gallant D, Slough BG, Reid DG, Berteaux D (2012) Arctic fox versus red fox in the warming Arctic: four decades of den surveys in north Yukon. Polar Biol 35:1421–1431CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Garrott RA, Eberhardt LE (1982) Mortality of arctic fox pups in northern Alaska. J Mammal 63:173–174CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Garrott RA, Eberhardt LE, Hanson WC (1983) Arctic fox den identification and characteristics in northern Alaska. Can J Zool 61:423–426CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Giroux M-A, Berteaux D, Lecomte N, Gauthier G, Szor G, Bêty J (2012) Benefiting from a migratory prey: spatio–temporal patterns in allochthonous subsidization of an arctic predator. J Anim Ecol 81:533–542PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Halpin MA, Bissonette JA (1988) Influence of snow depth on prey availability and habitat use by red fox. Can J Zool 66:587–592CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hersteinsson P, Macdonald DW (1982) Some comparisons between red and arctic foxes, Vulpes vulpes and Alopex lagopus, as revealed by radio tracking. Symp Zool Soc Lond 49:259–289Google Scholar
  33. Hersteinsson P, Macdonald DW (1992) Interspecific competition and the geographical distribution of red and arctic foxes Vulpes vulpes and Alopex lagopus. Oikos 64:505–515CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Hilbe JM (2011) Negative binomial regression, 2nd edn. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Hobgood TW (1984) Ecology of the red fox (Vulpes vulpes) in the upper Susitna, Alaska. Dissertation, University of AlaskaGoogle Scholar
  36. Hooper WH (1853) Ten months among the tents of the Tuski, with incidents of an arctic boat expedition in search of Sir John Franklin, as far as the Mackenzie River, and Cape Bathurst. John Murray, LondonGoogle Scholar
  37. Hurvich CM, Tsai C-L (1989) Regression and time series model selection in small samples. Biometrika 76:297–307CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Jackman S (2011) pscl: classes and methods for R developed in the political science computational laboratory, Stanford University. R package Version 1.04.1. Department of Political Science, Stanford University, Stanford. http://pscl.stanford.edu/
  39. Jepsen JU, Eide NE, Prestrud P, Jacobsen LB (2002) The importance of prey distribution in habitat use by arctic foxes (Alopex lagopus). Can J Zool 80:418–429CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Jones DM, Theberge JB (1982) Summer home range and habitat utilisation of the red fox (Vulpes vulpes) in a tundra habitat, northwest British Columbia. Can J Zool 60:807–812CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Klir JJ, Heath JE (1992) Metabolic rate and evaporative water loss at different ambient temperatures in two species of fox: the red fox (Vulpes vulpes) and the arctic fox (Alopex lagopus). Comp Biochem Phys A 101:705–707CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Krebs CJ (1999) Ecological methodology, 2nd edn. Benjamin Cummings, Menlo ParkGoogle Scholar
  43. Krebs CJ, Reid D, Kenney AJ, Gilbert S (2011) Fluctuations in lemming populations in north Yukon, Canada, 2007–2010. Can J Zool 89:297–306CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Linnell JDC, Strand O, Landa A (1999) Use of dens by red Vulpes vulpes and arctic Alopex lagopus foxes in alpine environments: can inter-specific competition explain the non-recovery of Norwegian arctic fox populations? Wildl Biol 5:167–176Google Scholar
  45. Mackay JR (1959) Glacier ice-thrust features of the Yukon coast. Geogr Bull 13:5–21Google Scholar
  46. Macpherson AH (1964) A northward range extension of the red fox in the eastern Canadian Arctic. J Mammal 45:138–140CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Macpherson AH (1969) The dynamics of Canadian arctic fox populations. Can Wildl Serv Rep No 8Google Scholar
  48. Marsh DB (1938) The influx of the red fox and its colour phases into the barren lands. Can Field Nat 52:60–61Google Scholar
  49. McLellan BN, Servheen C, Huber D (2012) Ursus arctos. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN SSC Bear Specialist Group. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.1, Cambridge. http://www.iucnredlist.org
  50. Metzgar LH (1967) An experimental comparison of screech owl predation on resident and transient white-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus). J Mammal 48:387–391CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Nagy MI (1988) Caribou exploitation at the Trail River site (northern Yukon). Dissertation, Simon Fraser UniversityGoogle Scholar
  52. Nellemann C, Thomsen MG (1994) Terrain ruggedness and caribou forage availability during snowmelt on the Arctic Coastal Plain, Alaska. Arctic 47:361–367Google Scholar
  53. Pamperin NJ, Follmann EH, Petersen B (2006) Interspecific killing of an arctic fox by a red fox at Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. Arctic 59:361–364Google Scholar
  54. Prestrud P (1992a) Denning and home-range characteristics of breeding arctic foxes in Svalbard. Can J Zool 70:1276–1283CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Prestrud P (1992b) Physical characteristics of arctic fox (Alopex lagopus) dens in Svalbard. Arctic 45:154–158Google Scholar
  56. Rampton VN (1982) Quaternary geology of the Yukon Coastal Plain. Geol Surv Can Bull 317:1–49Google Scholar
  57. R Development Core Team (2011) R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna. http://www.R-project.org/
  58. Reed A, Chagnon P (1987) Greater snow geese on Bylot Island, Northwest Territories, 1983. J Wildl Manag 51:128–131CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Reid DG, Krebs CJ, Kenney AJ (1997) Patterns of predation on non-cyclic lemmings. Ecol Monogr 67:89–108CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Reid DG, Bilodeau F, Krebs CJ, Gauthier G, Kenney AJ, Gilbert BS, Leung MC-Y, Duchesne D, Hofer E (2012) Lemming winter habitat choice: a snow-fencing experiment. Oecologia 168:935–946PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Rodnikova A, Ims RA, Sokolov A, Skogstad G, Sokolov V, Shtro V, Fuglei E (2011) Red fox takeover of arctic fox breeding den: an observation from Yamal Peninsula, Russia. Polar Biol 34:1609–1614CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Roth JD (2002) Temporal variability in arctic fox diets as reflected in stable-carbon isotopes: the importance of sea ice. Oecologia 133:70–77CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Roth JD (2003) Variability in marine resources affects arctic fox population dynamics. J Anim Ecol 72:668–676CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Sampford MR (1955) The truncated negative binomial distribution. Biometrika 42:58–69Google Scholar
  65. Sanzone D, Streever B, Burgess B, Lukin J (eds) (2010) Long-term ecological monitoring in BP’s north slope oil fields: 2009 annual report. British Petroleum Exploration (Alaska), AnchorageGoogle Scholar
  66. Sargeant AB, Pfeifer WK, Allen SH (1975) A spring aerial census of red foxes in North Dakota. J Wildl Manag 39:30–39CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Skrobov VD (1960) On the interrelations of the polar fox and the fox in the tundra of the Nenets national region. Zool Zhurnal 39:469–471Google Scholar
  68. Slough BG (2007) Status of the wolverine Gulo gulo in Canada. Wildl Biol 13(suppl 2):76–82CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Smith B, Wilson JB (1996) A consumer’s guide to evenness indices. Oikos 76:70–82CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Smith CAS, Kennedy CE, Hargrave AE, McKenna KM (1989) Soil and vegetation survey of Herschel Island, Yukon Territory. Yukon Soil Survey Report No 1, Agriculture Canada, WhitehorseGoogle Scholar
  71. Smith CAS, Smits CMM, Slough BG (1992) Landform selection and soil modifications associated with arctic fox (Alopex lagopus) den sites in Yukon Territory, Canada. Arct Alp Res 24:324–328CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Smith CAS, Meikle JC, Roots CF (eds) (2004) Ecoregions of the Yukon Territory: biophysical properties of Yukon landscapes. PARC Technical Bulletin, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Bull 04-01, SummerlandGoogle Scholar
  73. Smits CMM, Jessup RH (1985) Den distribution, harvest and management of arctic fox in northern Yukon Territory. Northern Oil and Arctic Gas Action Program (Project G-15), Fish and Wildlife Branch, Yukon Department of Renewable Resources, WhitehorseGoogle Scholar
  74. Smits CMM, Slough BG (1993) Abundance and summer occupancy of arctic fox, Alopex lagopus, and red fox, Vulpes vulpes, dens in the northern Yukon Territory, 1984–1990. Can Field Nat 107:13–18Google Scholar
  75. Smits CMM, Smith CAS, Slough BG (1988) Physical characteristics of arctic fox (Alopex lagopus) dens in northern Yukon Territory, Canada. Arctic 41:12–16Google Scholar
  76. Smits CMM, Slough BG, Yasui CA (1989) Summer food habits of sympatric arctic foxes, Alopex lagopus, and red foxes, Vulpes vulpes, in the northern Yukon Territory. Can Field Nat 103:363–367Google Scholar
  77. Speller WS (1972) Food ecology and hunting behaviour of denning arctic foxes at Aberdeen Lake, Northwest Territories. Dissertation, University of SaskatchewanGoogle Scholar
  78. Storm GL, Andrews RD, Phillips RL, Bishop RA, Siniff DB, Tester JR (1976) Morphology, reproduction, dispersal and mortality of midwestern red fox populations. Wildl Monogr 49:3–82Google Scholar
  79. Strand O, Landa A, Linnell JDC, Zimmermann B, Skogland T (2000) Social organization and parental behavior in the arctic fox. J Mammal 81:223–233CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Szor G, Berteaux D, Gauthier G (2008) Finding the right home: distribution of food resources and terrain characteristics influence selection of denning sites and reproductive dens in arctic foxes. Polar Biol 31:351–362CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Tannerfeldt M, Elmhagen B, Angerbjörn A (2002) Exclusion by interference competition? The relationship between red and arctic foxes. Oecologia 132:213–220CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Tannerfeldt M, Moehrenschlager A, Angerbjörn A (2003) Den ecology of swift, kit and arctic foxes: a review. In: Sovada MA, Carbyn LN (eds) The swift fox: ecology and conservation of swift fox in a changing world. Canadian Plains Research Center, Regina, pp 167–181Google Scholar
  83. Tarroux A, Bêty J, Gauthier G, Berteaux D (2012) The marine side of a terrestrial carnivore: intra-population variation in use of allochthonous resources by arctic foxes. PLoS One 7:e42427. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0042427 PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Uraguchi K, Takahashi K (1998) Den site selection and utilization by the red fox in Hokkaido, Japan. Mammal Study 23:31–40CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. Voigt DR, Earle BD (1983) Avoidance of coyotes by red fox families. J Wildl Manag 47:852–857CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. Zapata SC, Travaini A, Delibes M (1998) Neither large nor small: intermediate-sized food items for the Patagonian gray fox (Pseudoalopex griseus). Can J Zool 76:2281–2284CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. Zeileis A, Kleiber C, Jackman S (2008) Regression models for count data in R. J Stat Softw 27:1–25Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel Gallant
    • 1
  • Donald G. Reid
    • 2
  • Brian G. Slough
    • 3
  • Dominique Berteaux
    • 1
  1. 1.Chaire de recherche du Canada en biodiversité nordique and Centre d’Études NordiquesUniversité du Québec à RimouskiRimouskiCanada
  2. 2.Wildlife Conservation Society CanadaWhitehorseCanada
  3. 3.WhitehorseCanada

Personalised recommendations