Seasonal patterns of prey availability and the foraging behavior of arctic foxes (Alopex lagopus) in a waterfowl nesting area

Canadian Journal of Zoology
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Abstract

The foraging behavior of arctic foxes was observed in a waterfowl nesting area on the Yukon–Kuskokwim Delta of Alaska in 1985–1986. Observations were made during peak fox activity from two towers, 3 m high, located in different community types. Data were collected continuously for individual foxes on specific activities, the community in which activities occurred, and the type of food obtained. After migratory birds started nesting in the area, the food potentially available to foxes changed from microtines, old caches, and carrion to include eggs and birds. This change was reflected in the foraging behavior of the foxes as they switched to predation on eggs. After nesting began, the search success rate of foxes increased (from <30% to >50%) and search duration decreased (mean 19.7 s before nest initiation versus mean 9.4 s in mid-incubation) as the rate of food acquisition increased. Over 80% of the eggs taken by foxes were cached rather than eaten immediately, which extended the availability of this temporally limited resource to foxes. Eggs were the primary prey of arctic foxes during the nesting stages in both years, even though microtine populations were high in one year (1985) and low in the other (1986).

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Seasonal patterns of prey availability and the foraging behavior of arctic foxes (Alopex lagopus) in a waterfowl nesting area
Series title Canadian Journal of Zoology
DOI 10.1139/z91-402
Volume 69
Issue 11
Year Published 1991
Language English
Publisher NRC Research Press
Contributing office(s) Alaska Science Center
Description 7 p.
First page 2853
Last page 2859
Country United States
State Alaska
Other Geospatial Yukon–Kuskokwim Delta