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Feast to famine: sympatric predators respond differently to seasonal prey scarcity on the low-Arctic tundra
  • Chloé Warret Rodrigues,
  • James Roth
Chloé Warret Rodrigues
University of Manitoba

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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James Roth
University of Manitoba
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Resource fluctuation is a major driver of animal movement, influencing strategic choices such as residency vs nomadism, or social dynamics. The Arctic tundra is characterized by strong seasonality: resources are abundant during the short summers but scarce in winters. Therefore, expansion of boreal-forest species onto the tundra raises questions on how they cope with winter-resource scarcity. We examined a recent incursion by red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) onto the coastal tundra of western Hudson Bay, an area historically occupied by Arctic foxes (Vulpes lagopus) that lacks access to anthropogenic foods, and compared seasonal shifts in space use of the two species. We used 4 years of telemetry data following 8 red foxes and 11 Arctic foxes to test the hypothesis that the movement strategies of both species are primarily driven by temporal variability of resources. We also predicted that the harsh tundra conditions in winter affect red foxes more than Arctic foxes, which are adapted to this environment. Dispersal was the most frequent winter movement strategy in both fox species, despite its association with high mortality (winter mortality was 9.4 times higher in dispersers than residents). Red foxes consistently dispersed towards the boreal forest, whereas Arctic foxes primarily used sea ice to disperse. Home range size of red and Arctic foxes did not differ in summer, but resident red foxes substantially increased their home range size in winter, whereas home range size of resident Arctic foxes did not change seasonally. As climate changes, abiotic constraints on some species may relax, but associated declines in prey communities may lead to local extirpation of many predators, notably by favoring dispersal during resource scarcity.
24 Sep 2022Submitted to Ecology and Evolution
24 Sep 2022Submission Checks Completed
24 Sep 2022Assigned to Editor
26 Sep 2022Reviewer(s) Assigned
25 Oct 2022Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
28 Oct 2022Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
23 Dec 20221st Revision Received
25 Dec 2022Submission Checks Completed
25 Dec 2022Assigned to Editor
25 Dec 2022Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
06 Jan 2023Reviewer(s) Assigned
09 Feb 2023Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
06 Mar 20232nd Revision Received
07 Mar 2023Submission Checks Completed
07 Mar 2023Assigned to Editor
07 Mar 2023Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
13 Mar 2023Editorial Decision: Accept