Vole abundance and reindeer carcasses determine breeding activity of Arctic foxes in low Arctic Yamal, Russia
AuthorEhrich, Dorothee; Cerezo, Maite; Rodnikova, Anna Y.; Sokolova, Natalya A.; Fuglei, Eva; Shtro, Victor; Sokolov, Aleksandr A.
High latitude ecosystems are at present changing rapidly under the influence of climate warming, and specialized Arctic species at the southern margin of the Arctic may be particularly affected. The Arctic fox (Vulpes lagopus), a small mammalian predator endemic to northern tundra areas, is able to exploit different resources in the context of varying tundra ecosystems. Although generally widespread, it is critically endangered in subarctic Fennoscandia, where a fading out of the characteristic lemming cycles and competition with abundant red foxes have been identified as main threats. We studied an Arctic fox population at the Erkuta Tundra Monitoring site in low Arctic Yamal (Russia) during 10 years in order to determine which resources support the breeding activity in this population. In the study area, lemmings have been rare during the last 15 years and red foxes are nearly absent, creating an interesting contrast to the situation in Fennoscandia.