Change search
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
From monogamy to complexity: social organization of arctic foxes (Vulpes lagopus) in contrasting ecosystems
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-9707-5206
Show others and affiliations
2012 (English)In: Canadian Journal of Zoology, ISSN 0008-4301, E-ISSN 1480-3283, Vol. 90, no 9, 1102-1116 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Canids display pronounced intraspecific variation in social organization, ranging from single breeding females to large and complex groups. Despite several hypotheses in this matter, little is understood about the ecological factors underlying this flexibility. We have used the arctic fox (Vulpes lagopus (L., 1758)) to investigate how contrasting ecosystem conditions concerning resources and predation influence group formation. We predicted that complex groups are more common in resource-rich ecosystems with predators, whereas simple groups occur in more marginal ecosystems without predators. Samples from 54 groups were collected from four populations of arctic foxes with contrasting prey resources and predation and these samples were genotyped in 10 microsatellite loci. We found considerable variation between ecosystems and a significant relationship between resources and formation of complex groups. We conclude that sufficient amounts of food is a prerequisite for forming complex groups, but that defense against predation further increases the benefits of living in larger groups. We present a conceptual model suggesting that a trade-off between the cost of resource depletion and the benefits obtained for guarding against predators explain the differences in social organization. The variable ecology of  the arctic foxes makes it is a plausible model species for understanding the connection between ecology and social organization also in other species.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 90, no 9, 1102-1116 p.
Keyword [en]
Vulpes lagopus, arctic fox, resource dispersion hypothesis, predation, parentage, microsatellites, trade-off
National Category
Biological Sciences
Research subject
Animal Ecology
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-78870DOI: 10.1139/Z2012-077ISI: 000308772300005OAI: diva2:544928
Available from: 2012-08-16 Created: 2012-08-16 Last updated: 2014-10-13Bibliographically approved

Open Access in DiVA

No full text

Other links

Publisher's full text

Search in DiVA

By author/editor
Norén, KarinElmhagen, BodilDalén, LoveMeijer, TomasAngerbjörn, Anders
By organisation
Department of Zoology
In the same journal
Canadian Journal of Zoology
Biological Sciences

Search outside of DiVA

GoogleGoogle Scholar
The number of downloads is the sum of all downloads of full texts. It may include eg previous versions that are now no longer available

Altmetric score

Total: 407 hits
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link