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Journal Article

Long-distance dispersal in red foxes Vulpes vulpes revealed by GPS tracking

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Walton, Z., Samelius, G., Odden, M., & Willebrand, T. (2018). Long-distance dispersal in red foxes Vulpes vulpes revealed by GPS tracking. European Journal of Wildlife Research, 64(6): 64. doi:10.1007/s10344-018-1223-9.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0007-6285-4
Dispersal is a fundamental process that facilitates population and range expansion by providing a mechanism for colonization and metapopulation linkages. Yet quantifying the dispersal process, particularly long-distance dispersal events, has been inherently difficult due to technological and observational limitations. Additionally, dispersal distance calculated as the straight-line distance between initiation and settlement fails to account for the actual movement path of the animal during dispersal. Here, we highlight six long-distance dispersal events, representing some of the longest dispersal distances recorded for red foxes. Cumulative dispersal movements ranged from 132 to 1036 km and occurred within both sexes (1 female, 5 males). With one exception, dispersal events ranged from 7 to 22 days and tended to be directed north-northwest. Importantly, cumulative movements were up to five times longer than straight-line distances, with two foxes traveling an additional 114 and 256 km before returning to, and settling in, areas previously encountered during dispersal. This suggests a role of habitat assessment and homing behavior during dispersal and indicates that the capacity and potential for dispersal are not limiting factors to either sex in a red fox population. Dispersal capacity should thus be considered regarding transboundary management and disease control of red fox populations.