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Tytuł artykułu

Changes in red fox habitat preference and rest site fidelity following a disease-induced population decline

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The habitat preferences of red foxesVulpes vulpes (Linnaeus, 1758) in Bristol, UK, were compared during periods of high and low population density following an outbreak of sarcoptic mange (Sarcoptes scabiei). These periods are termed ‘pre-epizootic’ and ‘post-epizootic’, respectively. Habitat preferences were compared between periods during nocturnal activity and diurnal inactivity using compositional analysis. Back gardens were the most preferred habitat for pre-epizootic foxes during periods of activity; back gardens and allotment/woodland habitats were equally preferred by post-epizootic foxes, with a trend for allotment/woodland to be the most favoured. During periods of inactivity, pre-epizootic foxes selected back gardens for diurnal rest sites, compared with allotments/woodland in the post-epizootic period. Post-epizootic foxes also showed a significant decrease in rest sitefidelity, such that they were very unlikely to re-use a rest site more than once. In comparison, pre-epizootic foxes were often very faithful to one or a small number of sites. Such changes in habitat preference and rest site fidelity could have been facilitated by: (1) changes in food availability, (2) a decrease in intra-specific competition, (3) the requirements of defending larger territories post-epizootic, or (4) an avoidance of habitats that might increase the likelihood of mange transmission. The management implications of these results are discussed.
Opis fizyczny
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