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Anthropogenic food use and diet overlap between red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) and arctic foxes (Vulpes lagopus) in Prudhoe Bay, Alask

TitleAnthropogenic food use and diet overlap between red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) and arctic foxes (Vulpes lagopus) in Prudhoe Bay, Alask
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsSavory, GA, Hunter, CM, Wooller, MJ, O'Brien, DM
JournalCanadian Journal of Zoology
Volume92
Issue8
Pagination657-663
Date Published08/2014
Abstract

Red foxes (Vulpes vulpes (L., 1758)) recently expanded into the oil fields at Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, USA, and we hypothesized that the availability of anthropogenic foods may contribute to their success and persistence there. This study assessed the importance of anthropogenic foods to the diets of red foxes and arctic foxes (Vulpes lagopus (L., 1758)), and competition for food resources between the two species in Prudhoe Bay. We used stable isotope analysis of fox tissues to infer diet during summer and winter for both red and arctic foxes, and lifetime diet for red fox. While the contribution of anthropogenic foods in late summer for both species’ diets was low (~10% to 15%), the contribution in late winter was higher and varied between species (red foxes = 49%; arctic foxes = 39%). Estimates of lifetime diet in red foxes suggest consistent use of anthropogenic foods. We found moderate overlap of fox diets, although red foxes appeared to be more specialized on lemmings, whereas arctic foxes had a more diverse diet. Availability and consumption of anthropogenic foods by red foxes, particularly in winter, may partially explain their year-round presence in Prudhoe Bay.

DOI10.1139/cjz-2013-0283