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Space use and territoriality in swift foxes (Vulpes velox) in northeastern Colorado

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Space use is a fundamental characteristic that informs our knowledge of social relationships and the degree to which individuals are territorial. Until recently, relatively little was known about the spatial ecology and social organization of swift foxes (Vulpes velox (Say, 1823)). We investigated space use of swift foxes on shortgrass prairie in northeastern Colorado. Our first objective was to evaluate sizes of seasonal and annual home ranges and core areas of 13 radio-collared swift foxes monitored continuously for 2 years. Our second objective was to compare home-range and core-area overlap of breeding pairs to that of neighboring foxes, including male–male, female–female, and nonbreeding female–male dyads. Home-range size in our study population was among the smallest previously reported for swift foxes. Males tended to have slightly larger home ranges and core areas than females, and home-range size was significantly larger in the breeding season than in both the pup-rearing and the dispersal seasons; sizes of core areas did not differ seasonally. Spatial overlap between breeding pairs was substantial, whereas spatial overlap between neighbors, particularly males, was low, suggesting territoriality.

Keywords: Vulpes velox; aire centrale; chevauchement; core area; domaine vital; home range; overlap; saisons; seasonal; territoriality; territorialité

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Biology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA. 2: Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA. 3: Centre for Research in Animal Behaviour, School of Psychology, University of Exeter, Washington Singer Labs, Exeter, EX4 4QG, United Kingdom. 4: Animal Behaviour Group, Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Publication date: March 1, 2012

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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