a Sierra Nevada red fox at Crater Lake National Park – Photo credit: Elena Thomas, NPS (May 2009)
This research is led by Ph. D student, Preston Alden, of the Mammal Ecology and Conservation Unit at University of California, Davis, and aims to understand the biogeography and ecology of native red foxes of the Southern Cascade and Great Basin Mountain Ranges of the United States, where most contemporary native populations occur in relictual high montane zones. These cooler habitats closely resemble those that were widespread during the Pleistocene to which most native North American red fox are well adapted. Our interests are twofold: determining the status of the Sierra Nevada red fox (V. vulpes necator) in Oregon and elucidating the origins and population structure of red foxes inhabiting the Great Basin “sky islands.” We plan to survey these mountain ranges to collect noninvasive genetic samples that can be used to assess the distribution, abundance (genetic effective population size), genetic integrity, and connectivity of these populations. We are also investigating potential genetic introgression from non-native red foxes originating from fur-farm stock, which occur primarily in lower elevation regions of the West.
Ben Sacks – University of California, Davis, USA
Preston Alden – University of California, Davis, USA