BIO 203

Interactions

                                                                                     Find this picture here.

File:Polarfuchs 1 2004-11-17.jpgThe arctic fox is not an animal that lives in groups such as geese or in a pack like wolves, mostly during their adult lives the arctic fox is alone until they find a mate and start to produce offspring, 10-14 for each pregnancy, they then separate again after they young have been raised.

Living alone has some advantages like only having to hunt for you and being able to follow the food over long distances, but it also means that the fox is relying on its individual hunting skills, which during the winter can sometimes be hard and lead to the fox to not have an abundance of food (BÍty et al. 2002). This leads to the fox to scavenge off polar bears and will often clean up what is left over after a polar bear has made kill; this relationship has no negative effects on the polar bears because they only leave the kill after they have had their fill (BÍty et al. 2002). Due to the relationship between the polar bear and the arctic fox it is very typical to see an arctic fox following the polar bear. Check out more information about the polar bear here. The arctic fox will sometimes also clean up after the kill of a bald eagle.

The main interactions between arctic foxes and other organisms is primarily a predator and prey situation, the arctic fox is the predator in most of the interactions. The arctic fox also has a competition based interaction with the red fox as well as other predators (Hersteinsson and MacDonald, 1992). Some other predators are the grey wolf and the coyote. The arctic fox is classified as an omnivore, which means that it has both other animal species and plant species as a food source (BÍty et al. 2002). If the fox has to hunt alone without the aid of a larger predator then the typical prey is smaller rodents, birds (marten), fish and the occasional seal pup (BÍty et al. 2002), if none of these are available then the fox will eat different plant species such as the norway spruce, blue spruce, or  canadian wild ginger for nutrients. The fox has a very unique style of hunting the smaller rodents that have burrowed under the snow-packs, the fox will jump and dive its snout into the snow to reach their prey.

            The fox is not always a predator but sometimes the prey to the larger animals of the arctic.  The fox’s main predators are the polar bear, wolves, birds, and humans. The wolves and eagles typically hunt the young pups; the wolves even dig up the foxes dens to reach the young pups. Polar bears and Humans typically hunt the adult foxes; humans hunt the foxes for their furs which are used for hats and coats.

Their small size, hunting habits, and their family have all allowed the arctic fox to be successful in the harsh arctic climates, when other organisms cannot. Although they face predation they are not the victims of the biome and have their place in the ecosystem allowing them to be both predator and prey (BÍty et al. 2002). The arctic fox also will tend to cause reduced nest success in canada geese in the area.

 

Check out the artic foxes habitat page to learn about its home environment!


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