Reproduction and denning by San Clemente Island Foxes: Age, sex, and polygamy

The Southwestern Naturalist
By: , and 



Channel Island foxes (Urocyon littoralis) live on six of the eight California Channel Islands, and each island is inhabited by a distinct subspecies. Until recently, four of these subspecies were listed under the Endangered Species Act as endangered. Although three of the four subspecies have been delisted, and one subspecies was downlisted to threatened, all subspecies are still vulnerable because of small population sizes and potential threats from predation and disease. Consequently, information on reproductive behavior for each subspecies, including the San Clemente Island fox (Urocyon littoralis clementae), is important for understanding fox population dynamics. We determined reproductive status of 28 island foxes through observations of radio collared yearlings and adults with or without juveniles between 25 February and 8 October 2009. We found a greater number of adult foxes than yearling foxes and a greater number of female foxes than male foxes observed with juveniles. Also, there was a significantly greater probability of observing adult female foxes with juveniles than yearling males with juveniles. Only 1 of 28 radio collared foxes exhibited either polygamous or “helper” behaviors. Parturition started approximately 2 months earlier than historically recorded for other Channel Island fox subspecies. Our results suggest that in future studies of reproductive success more effort should be placed on monitoring adult females than yearling males. If emergence from dens continues to occur earlier than previously recorded, the current recommended time period for trapping (20 June–31 January) might need revision to exclude January to reduce stress to pregnant females. If all foxes have similar probabilities of transmitting disease on a given contact with juveniles, our data suggest that it may be appropriate to focus more vaccination efforts on females than males and adults than yearlings because they contact juveniles more frequently.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Reproduction and denning by San Clemente Island Foxes: Age, sex, and polygamy
Series title The Southwestern Naturalist
DOI 10.1894/0038-4909-64.3-4.164
Volume 64
Issue 3-4
Year Published 2020
Language English
Publisher BioOne
Contributing office(s) Fort Collins Science Center
Description 9 p.
First page 164
Last page 172
Country United States
State California
Other Geospatial Channel Islands
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