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Sci Prog. 2008;91(Pt 2):175-91.

Global warming and effects on the Arctic fox.

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Norwegian Polar Institute, N-9296 Tromsø, Norway.


We predict the effect of global warming on the arctic fox, the only endemic terrestrial predatory mammals in the arctic region. We emphasize the difference between coastal and inland arctic fox populations. Inland foxes rely on peak abundance of lemming prey to sustain viable populations. In the short-term, warmer winters result in missed lemming peak years and reduced opportunities for successful arctic fox breeding. In the long-term, however, warmer climate will increase plant productivity and more herbivore prey for competitive dominant predators moving in from the south. The red fox has already intruded the arctic region and caused a retreat of the southern limit of arctic fox distribution range. Coastal arctic foxes, which rely on the richer and temporally stable marine subsidies, will be less prone to climate-induced resource limitations. Indeed, arctic islands, becoming protected from southern species invasions as the extent of sea ice is decreasing, may become the last refuges for coastal populations of Arctic foxes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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