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Research article2017Peer reviewedOpen access

Fear or food – abundance of red fox in relation to occurrence of lynx and wolf

Wikenros, Camilla; Aronsson, Malin; Liberg, Olof; Jarnemo, Anders; Hansson, Jessica; Wallgren, Martha; Sand, Hakan; Bergstrom, Roger


Apex predators may affect mesopredators through intraguild predation and/or supply of carrion from their prey, causing a trade-off between avoidance and attractiveness. We used wildlife triangle snowtracking data to investigate the abundance of red fox (Vulpes vulpes) in relation to lynx (Lynx lynx) and wolf (Canis lupus) occurrence as well as land composition and vole (Microtus spp.) density. Data from the Swedish wolf-monitoring system and VHF/GPS-collared wolves were used to study the effect of wolf pack size and time since wolf territory establishment on fox abundance. Bottom-up processes were more influential than top-down effects as the proportion of arable land was the key indicator of fox abundance at the landscape level. At this spatial scale, there was no effect of wolf abundance on fox abundance, whereas lynx abundance had a positive effect. In contrast, at the wolf territory level there was a negative effect of wolves on fox abundance when including detailed information of pack size and time since territory establishment, whereas there was no effect of lynx abundance. This study shows that different apex predator species may affect mesopredator abundance in different ways and that the results may be dependent on the spatiotemporal scale and resolution of the data.

Published in

Scientific Reports
2017, Volume: 7, article number: 9059