This research is led by Ph. D student, Cate Quinn, of the Mammal Ecology and Conservation Unit at University of California, Davis. Historically Sierra Nevada red foxes were present throughout the subalpine zone of the Sierra Nevada range in California and the southern Cascades of Oregon and California. Over the past century the abundance and distribution of Sierra Nevada red fox have declined dramatically. Today Sierra Nevada red fox persist at small numbers in two isolated populations in California and their range is poorly understood in Oregon. Despite long-term trends of decline, a lack of basic ecological knowledge of this native subspecies has hampered conservation efforts. This research is aimed at increasing our understanding of the ecology of Sierra Nevada red fox and the potential factors limiting its population growth. We focus on the recently rediscovered population north of (and in) Yosemite National Park, as a focal population to investigate how genetics, environment, and interactions with competitor and prey species affect the health of this Sierra Nevada red fox population. Specifically, this research combines noninvasive genetic sampling and satellite telemetry to 1) characterize the effective population size and degree of inbreeding present in the population, 2) approximate rates of reproduction and mortality, 3) identify fine-scaled habitat associations and key resource use, and 4) investigate spatial relationship with its competitor coyote.
Ben Sacks – University of California, Davis, USA
Cate Quinn – University of California, Davis, USA