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Swift Foxes and Ideal Free Distribution: Relative Influence of Vegetation and Rodent Prey Base on Swift Fox Survival, Density, and Home Range Size
UTAH STATE UNIV LOGAN DEPT OF WILDLAND RESOURCES
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Swift foxes Vulpes velox are an endemic mesocarnivore of North America subject to resource and predation-based pressures. While swift fox demographics have been documented, there is little information on the importance of top-down versus bottom-up pressures or the effect of landscape heterogeneity. Using a consumable resource-based ideal free distributionmodel as a conceptual framework, we isolated the effects of resource-based habitat selection on fox population ecology. We hypothesized if swift fox ecology is predominantly resource dependant, distribution, survival, and space use would match predictions made under ideal free distribution theory. We monitored survival and home range use of 47 swift foxes in southeastern Colorado from 2001 to 2004. Annual home range size was 15.4 km2, and seasonal home range size was 10.1 km2. At the individual level, annual home range size was unrelated to survival. Estimates of fox density ranged from 0.03 to 0.18 foxeskm2. Seasonal survival rates were 0.73 and 1.0 and did not differ seasonally. Foxes conformed to the predictions of the ideal free distribution model during winter, indicating foxes are food stressed and their behavior governed by resource acquisition. During the rest of the year, behavior was not resource driven and was governed by security from intraguild predation.
APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE