Den-site selection at multiple scales by the red fox (Vulpes vulpes subsp. montana) in a patchy human-dominated landscape

Muhammad Zaman, Bryony Tolhurst, Mengyan Zhu, Guangshun Jiang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Human-wildlife conflict impacts native wildlife populations and people in socio-economically poor areas. In the Shigar Valley, Karakoram range, Pakistan, subsistence mixed farming is the predominant land use and red foxes (Vulpes vulpes montana) are widely persecuted. Knowledge of the effects of human activity on fox behavior and populations in the region is lacking.We carried out 38 transect surveys within 87 sampling units of grid size 3 km × 3 km and recorded 42 resting and 24 active natal dens from 2015 to 2017. We evaluated 17 model subsets for describing probabilistic Resource Selection Functions (RSFs) predicting den occurrence at landscape, patch, and micro-habitat scales in terms of anthropogenic factors, including distance to agricultural land and roads. We also tested and controlled for associations between den occurrence and biotic and abiotic variables, including prey occurrence. We found that: 1) distance to roads negatively influenced fox den occurrence; 2) Indian pika (Ochotona roylei) burrow occurrence positively influenced fox den occurrence; (3) Natal dens had larger and more numerous openings than resting dens; 4) den occurrence was greatest at moderate elevations; and 5) den occurrence was negatively related to forest cover and positively correlated with shrub cover. The findings suggest that foxes do not strongly avoid human activity, and that den types are variable. Further studies are required on the function of foxes in this landscape focusing on ecosystem services such as seed dispersal, carrion removal and regulation of prey populations.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere01136
JournalGlobal Ecology and Conservation
Volume23
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 29 May 2020

Keywords

  • den sites
  • granularity
  • multiple scale
  • human-wildlife conflict
  • pika
  • resource selection function (RSF)
  • red fox (Vulpes vulpes)
  • Red fox (Vulpes vulpes)
  • Pika
  • Den sites
  • Granularity
  • Resource selection function (RSF)
  • Multiple scale
  • Human-wildlife conflict

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