Winter movement behavior by swift foxes (Vulpes velox) at the northern edge of their range

Canadian Journal of Zoology, e-First Articles. Winter can be a limiting time of year for many temperate species, who must access depressed prey resources to meet energetic demands. The swift fox (Vulpes velox (Say, 1823)) was extirpated from Canada and Montana (USA) by 1969, but was reintroduced in the 1980s to Canada, and subsequently spread into northern Montana. Swift foxes in this region are at the current northern range edge where winter conditions are harsher and persist longer than in their southern range (i.e., Colorado (USA) to Texas (USA)). We collected fine-scale locational data from swift foxes fitted with global positioning system collars to examine movement and resource-use patterns during winter of 2016 –2017 in northeastern Montana. Our results suggest that swift foxes displayed three distinct movement patterns (i.e., resting, foraging, and travelling) during the winter. Distance to road decreased relative probability of use by 39%–46% per kilometre across all movement states and individuals, whereas the influence of topographic roughness and distance to crop field varied among movement states and individuals. Overall, while our findings are based on data from three individuals, our study suggests that across movement states during the critical winter season, swift foxes are likely using topography and areas near roads to increase their ability to detect predators.
Source: Canadian Journal of Zoology - Category: Zoology Authors: Source Type: research

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