Desert kit fox home range – southeastern California

In: Israel Journal of Ecology and Evolution

Kit fox (Vulpes macrotis) life history and ecology has been extensively studied in the Great Basin and California's Central Valley, with fewer studies in hot desert regions resulting in regional knowledge gaps. To augment our understanding of kit fox life history and ecology, we conducted a 2-year radio-telemetry study of the desert kit fox (V. m. arsipus) in southeastern California. Fifty-six desert kit foxes were fitted with morality-sensitive radio collars between October 2012 and August 2014 with individuals located five to seven nights per week to determine home range size and population density. Mean home range was 15.77 ± 1.03 km2 (95% fixed kernel) and 18.48 ± 1.77 km2 (minimum convex polygon), and larger than all, but one previous study. We found no difference in home range size based on sex or year. Home range overlaps were significantly larger for mated (79.3% ± 1.35%) than unmated pairs (20.9% ± 1.01%) and consistent with previous studies. Population size was estimated at 88 individuals using open population models, resulting in an estimated density of 0.34/km2 (range 0.26–0.47/km2) which is higher than previously reported. Our study represents the first home range and population density study for desert kit foxes in California and provided critical knowledge of this understudied kit fox population.

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