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 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|
|Publisher||NRC Research Press|
|Contributing office(s)||Alaska Science Center|
|Other Geospatial||Yukon–Kuskokwim Delta|