• Arctic fox winter movement and diet in relation to industrial development on Alaska's North Slope

      Lehner, Neil S.; Person, Brian; Kielland, Knut; O'Brien, Diane; Hunter, Christine (2012-12)
      I examined winter movement and diet of Arctic foxes (Vulpes lagopus) in the Prudhoe Bay oilfields and an adjacent undeveloped area (National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A)). Movement metrics were compared between these areas using data from satellite collars. Daily travel rate was approximately 5 times greater in the undeveloped area than in Prudhoe Bay. Four adult foxes collared in NPR-A used the sea ice for extensive time periods. One of these foxes traveled 338 km in three days while another traveled to Banks Island (Northwest Territories, Canada), over 1050 km from its capture location. Prudhoe Bay foxes did not make these long distance movements and remained near their summer capture location throughout winter. I used stable isotope analysis and a mixing model (SIAR) to estimate the contribution of marine, terrestrial, and anthropogenic foods to fox diet. Based on muscle tissue, the average contribution of anthropogenic foods to Prudhoe Bay fox diet was more that 50%. Marine foods were utilized in NPR-A, but not in Prudhoe Bay. Results demonstrate that anthropogenic foods are heavily utilized by foxes that overwinter in the oilfields and this food source is likely responsible for reduced winter movements of Prudhoe Bay foxes. Therefore, industrial development strongly affects winter movement and diet of foxes.