Behavioral changes associated with a population density decline in the facultatively social red fox

G Iossa, CD Soulsbury, PJ Baker, KJ Edwards, S Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

37 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Understanding the causal mechanisms promoting group formation in carnivores has been widely investigated, particularly how fitness components affect group formation. Population density may affect the relative benefits of natal philopatry versus dispersal. Density effects on individual behavioral strategies have previously been studied through comparisons of different populations, where differences could be confounded by between-site effects. We used a single population of red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) in the city of Bristol, UK, that underwent a natural perturbation in density to compare key changes in 1) group structure, 2) within-group relatedness, 3) mating system, 4) dispersal, and 5) dominance attainment. At high densities (19.6–27.6 adults km-2), group sex ratios were equal and included related and unrelated individuals. At low densities (4.0–5.5 adults km-2), groups became female biased and were structured around philopatric females. However, levels of within-group relatedness were unchanged. The genetic mating patterns changed with no instances of multiple-paternity litters and a decline in the frequency of extrapair litters of cubs from
Translated title of the contributionBehavioral changes associated with a population density decline in the facultatively social red fox
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)385 - 395
Number of pages11
JournalBehavioral Ecology
Volume20(2)
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2008

Bibliographical note

Publisher: Oxford University Press

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