Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Adaptations to extreme environmental conditions were investigated in a detailed study of red foxes Vulpes vulpes inhabiting a desert region of Saudi Arabia. Forty-two adult foxes were live-trapped during 3 years of field work. In contrast to red foxes studied in other areas, no strict territoriality was observed in this population. Although close interaction (separation < 1 m) was more common between members of the same, rather than different, social groups, medium distance interactions were similar. Further, intra-group encounters were much less common than for foxes in the U.K., and foxes did not avoid each other at territory boundaries. All foxes used food-rich sites associated with human activity, and aggregations of up to four foxes were regularly seen in these areas. It is suggested that the combination of an extremely harsh environment, with spatially and temporally variable food supplies, leads to the formation of loosely knit social groups. Saudi Arabian red foxes followed Bergmann's rule in being considerably smaller than those found in cooler areas. They also had a lighter coloured pelage than red foxes typical of Europe and North America. These morphological differences may represent adaptations to the low availability of food and rest sites in the desert.

Original publication

DOI

10.1017/S0952836999009899

Type

Journal article

Journal

Journal of Zoology

Publication Date

01/12/1999

Volume

249

Pages

383 - 391