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Overview

Brief Summary

Description

The kit fox has been thought by some to be a subspecies of the swift fox. This fox currently inhabits desert and semi-arid regions between the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the Rocky Mountains and on down into Baja California and the North Central states of Mexico; it is also found in the San Joaquin Valley of California.

Several features distinguish the kit fox from the swift fox. Kit fox ears are larger and set closer together than the swift fox. The head of the kit fox is slightly broader between the eyes and the snout is narrower. The kit fox has a longer tail, relative to the body, than the swift fox.

Their diet consists of the most readily available small mammals in the region, especially rodents and rabbits. The relationship of kit fox populations to populations of banner-tailed kangaroo rats (Dipodomys spectabilis) in the San Joaquin Valley and to black-tailed jack rabbits (Lepus californicus) in Utah have been well documented.

Links:
Mammal Species of the World  (see Vulpes velox)
  • Original description: Merriam, C.H., 1888.  Description of a new fox from southern California, p. 136.  Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, 4:135-138.
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Biology

Kit foxes are primarily monogamous, usually mating for life (5). Mating occurs from mid-December to January, with litters containing one to seven pups, which are born in special 'pupping dens' from mid-February to mid-March (5) (6). Pups are weaned and emerge from dens at about four weeks, and become independent at five to six months (5) (6). Young, usually females, may delay dispersal and stay in their home ranges to help raise the next litter (5). Individuals have been recorded to live up to seven years in the wild (5). Kit foxes are usually active at night, but occasionally exhibit crepuscular behaviour (5). Mated pairs regularly share dens throughout the year (10). Multiple dens are used, which are either self-excavated or made from modified burrows of other animals, or human-made structures, such as culverts, abandoned pipes, and banks in roadbeds (11). Mainly solitary hunters, these foxes primarily consume rodents and rabbits, although birds, amphibians, carrion and small amounts of fruit may also be eaten (5).
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Description

Kit foxes are among the smallest foxes of the Americas, with their most conspicuous characteristic being exceptionally large, closely set ears (5) (6), which help dissipate body heat in their desert environment (6). This fox has a slender body, long legs and a very bushy tail, which sticks straight out behind it and is tipped in black (6) (7). The colour of the coat varies with the season, ranging from rusty-tan to buff-grey in the summer, to silvery grey in the winter, with a whitish belly (7). The hair is dense between the footpads (5), giving the fox better traction on the sandy soil of its habitat, whilst also protecting the paws from the heat of the desert sand (6). The kit fox and the more easterly swift fox (Vulpes velox) were previously considered a single species, but more recent evidence implies the two species are distinct. Both foxes are sometimes called the swift fox, due to their ability to run as fast as 25 mph (40 km/h) for short distances (8).
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Distribution

endemic to a single state or province

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National Distribution

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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Global Range: (20,000-200,000 square km (about 8000-80,000 square miles)) Range includes the San Joaquin Valley, California, encompassing portions of the valley floor and adjacent foothills and interior Coast Range valleys, historically from as far north as Tracy (San Joaquin County) and La Grange (Stanislaus County) and south to Kern County) (Grinnell et al. 1937, USFWS 2010). At one time, the range was believed to have decreased to only the southern and western parts of the San Joaquin Valley and adjacent foothills and interior Coast Range Valleys, but subsequent research found these foxes in many additional areas, northward to Contra Costa County, including areas where the species previously had not been detected (USFWS 2010). However, some recently documented locations likely reflect dispersing individuals rather than resident populations, and many populations are small, isolated, and/or declining or apparently extirpated (USFWS 2010).

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occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

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National Distribution

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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Global Range: (20,000-2,500,000 square km (about 8000-1,000,000 square miles)) Historic range: southwestern U.S. to Baja California and central mainland of Mexico. Range now much reduced but incompletely known. Occurs in Great Basin, Sonoran, and Mojave deserts.

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Range Description

The Kit Fox inhabits the deserts and arid lands of western North America. In the United States, it occurs from southern California to western Colorado and western Texas, north into southern Oregon and Idaho. In Mexico, it occurs across the Baja California Peninsula and across northern Sonora and Chihuahua to western Nuevo León, and south into northern Zacatecas (McGrew 1979; Hall 1981).
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Historic Range:
U.S.A. (CA)

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Geographic Range

Kit foxes are primarily found in the southwestern part of the United States and northern and central Mexico. They are found as far north as the arid interior of Oregon, east to southwestern Colorado, south through Nevada, Utah, southeastern California, Arizona, New Mexico, and into western Texas. In Mexico they are found mainly in the states of Coahuila, Chihuahua, and Nuevo Leon, and throughout Baja California.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native )

  • Denver Museum of Nature and Science and Meaney & Company, Bear Canyon Consulting, Wyoming Natural Diversity Database: Meaney Dr. C. A., Reed-Eckert M., Beauvais Dr. G. P.. Kit Fox (Vulpes macrotis): A Technical Conservation Assessment. DE-AC08-88NV10617. Rocky Mountain Region: USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Region, Species Conservation Project. 2006.
  • List, R., B. Cypher. 2005. "Vulpes macrotis (kit fox)" (On-line). IUCN Canid Specialist Group. Accessed April 05, 2008 at http://www.canids.org/species/Vulpes_macrotis.htm.
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Range

Found only in western North America. In the United States, the kit fox's distribution ranges from southern California to western Colorado and western Texas, north into southern Oregon and Idaho. In Mexico, it occurs across the Baja California Peninsula and across northern Sonora and Chihuahua to western Nuevo León, and south into northern Zacatecas (5).
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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

Kit foxes are the smallest member of the family Canidae in North America. Their most distinctive feature is their exceptionally large ears placed close together on the head. The ears are from 71 to 95 mm in height and they play a role in dissipating heat and the excellent hearing of kit foxes.

Kit foxes range in color from yellowish to gray. They usually have a dark-colored back, light-colored undersides and inner ears, and distinct dark patches on each side of the nose and at the end of the tail. Males average slightly larger than females. Head and body length is from 485 to 520 mm in males (average 537) and from 455 to 535 mm in females (average 501). The tail is from 250 to 340 mm long. Males average 2.29 kg and females 1.9 kg, ranging from 1.6 to 2.7 kg.

Range mass: 1.6 to 2.7 kg.

Range length: 455 to 535 mm.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: male larger

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Size

Length: 81 cm

Weight: 2700 grams

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Size in North America

Length:
Range: 730-840 mm

Weight:
Range: 1.4-2.7 kg
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Type Information

Type for Vulpes macrotis
Catalog Number: USNM 213103
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Mammals
Sex/Stage: Male;
Preparation: Skin; Skull
Collector(s): M. Gill
Year Collected: 1915
Locality: Willow Creek Ranch, Near Jungo, Humboldt County, Nevada, United States, North America
  • Type: Goldman, E. A. 1931 Jun 04. Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences. 21: 250.
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Type for Vulpes macrotis
Catalog Number: USNM 98646
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Mammals
Sex/Stage: Male;
Preparation: Skull
Collector(s): C. Barber
Year Collected: 1899
Locality: Baird'S Ranch, San Andreas Range, 50 Mi N Of El Paso, Dona Ana County, New Mexico, United States, North America
  • Type: Merriam, C. H. 1902 Mar 22. Proc. Biol. Soc. Washington. 15: 74.
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Type for Vulpes macrotis
Catalog Number: USNM 147078
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Mammals
Sex/Stage: Male;
Preparation: Skin; Skull
Collector(s): E. Nelson & E. Goldman
Year Collected: 1905
Locality: Llano De Yrais, Opposite Magdalena Island, Baja California, Mexico, North America
  • Type: Nelson, E. W. & Goldman, E. A. 1909 Mar 10. Proc. Biol. Soc. Wash. 22: 25.
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Type for Vulpes macrotis
Catalog Number: USNM 140394
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Mammals
Sex/Stage: Male;
Preparation: Skin; Skull
Collector(s): E. Nelson & E. Goldman
Year Collected: 1905
Locality: Trinidad Valley, NW Base Of San Pedro Martir Mountains, Baja California, Mexico, North America
Elevation (m): 792
  • Type: Nelson, E. W. & Goldman, E. A. 1931 Aug 24. Journal of Mammalogy. 12: 302.
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Type for Vulpes macrotis
Catalog Number: USNM 202959
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Mammals
Sex/Stage: Male;
Preparation: Skin; Skull
Collector(s): E. Goldman
Year Collected: 1913
Locality: Tule Tanks, 2 Mi S, Near Mexican Boundary, Yuma County, Arizona, United States, North America
  • Type: Goldman, E. A. 1931 Jun 04. Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences. 21: 249.
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Type for Vulpes macrotis
Catalog Number: USNM 75828
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Mammals
Sex/Stage: Male;
Preparation: Skin; Skull
Collector(s): G. Leonard
Year Collected: 1895
Locality: Tracy, San Joaquin Valley, San Joaquin County, California, United States, North America
  • Type: Merriam, C. H. 1902 Mar 22. Proc. Biol. Soc. Washington. 15: 74.
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Ecology

Habitat

Sierra Juarez and San Pedro Martir pine-oak forests Habitat

This taxon can be found in the Sierra Juarez and San Pedro Martir pine-oak forests. The ecoregion is located in two mountain ranges in the state of Baja California, Mexico: the Sierra de Juarez and the Sierra de San Pedro Martir. Both mountain ranges belong to the physiographical province of Baja California, and constitute the northernmost elevated peaks of the Baja Peninsula. The mountainous range that descends into a large portion of Baja California becomes more abrupt at Juarez and San Pedro Martir; the eastern slope is steeper than the western. Altitudes range between 1100-2800 meters. The granitic mountains of Juarez and San Pedro Martir have young rocky soils and are poorly developed, shallow, and low in organic matter.

Dominant trees in the ecoregion are: Pinus quadrifolia, P. jeffreyi, P. contorta, P. lambertiana, Abies concolor, and Libocedrus decurren. The herbaceous stratum is formed by Bromus sp. and Artemisia tridentata. Epiphytes and fungi are abundant throughout the forests.

Characteristic mammals of the ecoregion include: Ornate shrew (Sorex ornatus), Puma (Puma concolor), Fringed Myotis bat (Myotis thysanodes), California chipmunk (Tamias obscurus), Bobcat (Lynx rufus), Coyote (Canis latrans), San Joaquin kit fox (Vulpes macrotis) and Bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis).

Numerous birds are present in the ecoregion, including the rare Bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), California condor (Gymnogyps californianus), Pinyon jay (Gymnohinus cyanocephalus), and White-breasted nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis).

A number of different reptilian taxa are found in these oak-pine forests; representative reptiles here are: the Banded rock lizard (Petrosaurus mearnsi); Common checkered whiptail (Cnemidophorus tesselatus), who is found in sparsely vegetated areas; Coast horned lizard (Phrynosoma coronatum), often found in locales of sandy soil, where individuals may burrow to escape surface heat; Night desert lizard (Xantusia vigilis), who is often found among bases of yucca, agaves and cacti; and the Baja California spiny lizard (Sceloporus zosteromus).

The Pacific chorus frog (Pseudacris regilla) is an anuran found within the Sierra Juarez and San Pedro Martir pine-oak forests as one of its western North America ecoregions of occurrence. The only other amphibian in the ecoregion is the Western toad (Anaxyrus boreas).

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Comments: Habitat includes alkali sink, valley grassland, and woodland, in valleys and adjacent gentle foothills (USFWS 2010). These foxes hunt in areas with low sparse vegetation that allows good visibility and mobility (Biosystems Analysis 1989). Multiple underground dens in dry soils are used throughout the year. Sometimes these foxes use pipes or culverts as den sites (Biosystems Analysis 1989). Young are born in an underground den. Dens usually have multiple entrances.

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Comments: Primarily open desert, shrubby or shrub-grass habitat. In central California, found in alkali sink, valley grassland, foothill woodland. In Mohave Desert, occurs in crosote bush; in Great Basin, in shadscale, greasewood and sagebrush.

Young are born in an underground den. Den usually has multiple entrances (3 or more) and may be 3-6 m long, reaching 127 cm in depth. In Utah, most dens were on flat, well-drained uplands (Daneke et al. 1985). Several dens may be used, especially in summer.

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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
The Kit Fox inhabits arid and semi-arid regions encompassing desert scrub, chaparral, halophytic, and grassland communities (McGrew 1979; O'Farrell 1987). It is found in elevations ranging from 400–1,900 m a.s.l., although Kit Foxes generally avoid rugged terrain with slopes > 5% (Warrick and Cypher 1998). Loose textured soils may be preferred for denning. Kit Foxes will use agricultural lands, particularly orchards, on a limited basis, and also can inhabit urban environments (Morrell 1972).

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Kit foxes are primarily found in arid regions, such as desert scrub, chaparral, and grasslands. Vegetation communities vary with the regional aridland fauna, but some examples of common habitats are saltbrush Atriplex polycarpa and sagebrush Artemisia tridentata. Kit foxes may also occur in agricultural areas and urban environments. They occur at elevations of 400 to 1900 meters. Kit foxes prefer areas with loose soils for constructing dens. They spend most of their time in dens that they dig themselves or take over from prairie dogs (Cynomys), other rodents, and American badgers (Taxidea taxus). Kit foxes occupy dens year-round and have several dens in their territory that they rotate among. Dens could have one or many entrances and are usually covered by thick brush. They usually stay in their dens during the daytime, exiting to hunt for food at night.

Range elevation: 400 to 1900 m.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: desert or dune ; savanna or grassland ; chaparral

Other Habitat Features: urban ; agricultural

  • Utah State University Wildlife Management: Jensen E., Poulsen C., Rogers M., Messmer Dr. T.. Kit Fox (Vulpes macrotis). Wildlife Notebook Series No. 9. Logan, Utah: Department of Fisheries and Wildlife. 1993.
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The kit fox occupies arid and semi-arid regions (5), encompassing the open prairie/grassland plains of west-central North America into the drier semi-deserts and true deserts of the southwest United States (9). It is found at elevations ranging from 400 to 1,900 metres, although rugged terrain with slopes is generally avoided. Agricultural lands, particularly orchards, and even urban environments may also be inhabited (5).
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Migration

Non-Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species do not make significant seasonal migrations. Juvenile dispersal is not considered a migration.

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.

Home range size reflects prey abundance and varies with location and from year to year. Based on several studies, adult home ranges average around 400-2340 hectares (see USFWS 2010).

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Non-Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species do not make significant seasonal migrations. Juvenile dispersal is not considered a migration.

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.

Home ranges vary from 260 to 520 hectares (Morrell 1972), up to 1160 hectares during times of prey scarcity (White and Ralls 1993).

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Trophic Strategy

Comments: Primary food item usually is the most abundant rodent (particularly kangaroo rats, mice, and ground squirrels) or lagomorph in the area, with opportinitic feeding also on carrion, birds, reptiles, insects, and fruits (see USFWS 2010).

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Comments: Primary food item is usually the most abundant nocturnal rodent or lagomorph in the area (e.g., DIPODOMYS spp., LEPUS CALIFORNICUS). May also feed opportunistically on birds, reptiles, insects.

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Food Habits

Kit foxes eat primarily rodents and rabbits. Species preyed on varies regionally, but the most common prey are prairie dogs (Cynomys species), kangaroo rats (Dipodomys species), black-tailed jackrabbits (Lepus californicus), and cottontail rabbits (Sylvilagus species). Kit foxes are primarily carnivores, but if food is scarce, they have been reported to eat tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum), cactus fruits (Carnegiea gigantea), and other available fruits. They also will scavenge carrion and eat large insects, lizards, snakes, and ground-dwelling birds.

Kit foxes may compete for food and dens with coyotes (Canis latrans), bobcats (Lynx rufus), red foxes (Vulpes vulpes), and American badgers (Taxidea taxus).

Animal Foods: birds; mammals; reptiles; carrion ; insects

Plant Foods: fruit

Primary Diet: carnivore (Eats terrestrial vertebrates)

  • Couper, H., D. Dixon, D. Fuller, J. Garlick, J. Griffiths, N. Henbest, B. Jones, R. Kerrod, A. Lyons, R. Matthews, R. Mills, Z. Vrbova. 1989. Deserts. Pp. "98" in R Kerrod, ed. The Plant World, Vol. 5, First Edition. Chicago: Bull Publishing.
  • George Jr., W. 1990. Tomato. Pp. "325-326" in S Fetzer Company, ed. The World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 19, First Edition. Chicago London Sydney Toronto: Scott Fetzer Company.
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Associations

Ecosystem Roles

Kit foxes are prey for other carnivores such as coyotes (Canis latrans) and bobcats (Lynx rufus). Also kit foxes are predators of rodents or other small animals, including black-tailed jackrabbits (Lepus californicus), kangaroo rats (Dipodomys), and prairie dogs (Cynomys). Because kit foxes move from den to den in search of a mate and food, their old dens are taken over by other kit foxes or other animals. As scavengers, kit foxes also play a major role in biodegradation.

Fleas, such as Pulex irritans and Pulex simulans, are common parasites of this species. Ticks are also common and include Ixodes texanus and Dermacentor perumapertus. Other cestode parasites include Mesocestoides corti, Mesogyna hypatica, and Dipylidium caninum. Unidentified roundworms and tapeworms have been noted from scat collections.

Ecosystem Impact: creates habitat; biodegradation

Commensal/Parasitic Species:

  • Harrison, R., M. Patrick, C. Schmitt. 2002. Foxes, Fleas, and Plague in New Mexico. The Southwestern Naturalist, 48/4: "720-728".
  • Voge, M. 1955. A List of Cestode Parasites From California Mammals. American Midland Naturalist, 54/2: 413-417.
  • Wilson, N., P. Bishop. 1966. A New Host and Range Extensino for Pulex simulans Baker with a Summary of Published Records (Siphonaptera: Pulicidae). American Midland Naturalist, 75/1: 245-248.
  • Egoscue, H. 1956. Preliminary Studies of the Kit Fox in Utah. Journal of Mammalogy, 37/3: 351-357.
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Predation

Predation by coyotes (Canis latrans) accounts for over 75% of kit fox predation. Other predators include bobcats (Lynx rufus), red foxes (Vulpes vulpes), American badgers (Taxidea taxus), feral dogs (Canis lupus familiaris), and large raptors (Accipitridae). Also kit fox deaths have been due to interactions with humans, such as illegal hunting and trapping for fur. Kit foxes are also hit by cars. Kit foxes are wary and nocturnal, with cryptic coloration, reducing their risk of predation.

Known Predators:

Anti-predator Adaptations: cryptic

  • U.S. Departments of the Army and Air Force National Guard Bureau. Mortality of San Joquin Kit Fox (Vulpes velox macrotis) at Camp Roberts Army National Guard Training Site, California. DE-AC08-88NV10617. Nevada Field Office: U.S. Department of Energy. 1992.
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Population Biology

Number of Occurrences

Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.

Estimated Number of Occurrences: 6 - 20

Comments: This fox is represented by three core subpopulation units and several satellite subpopulations (USFWS 2010).

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Global Abundance

2500 - 10,000 individuals

Comments: As of 1975, the remaining population was believed to include about 7,000 individuals. Subsequent survey data suggest that range-wide kit fox abundance has declined since then (see USFWS 2010). The largest remaining population occurs in the Carrizo Plain; in 2000, that population was estimated at 251-610 individuals (Bean and White 2000, USFWS 2010).

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General Ecology

Density averages around 1 fox per 259 ha (California Department of Fish and Game 1990).

Annual survival rate is 0.40-0.68 in adults, 0.21-0.41 in juveniles (see Ralls and White 1995). Does not avoid coyotes; may coexist by exploiting certain prey species better than coyotes and maintaining numerous dens throughout the home range to facilitate escape (White et al. 1994).

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White and Garrot (1997) looked at available data on kit and swift fox populations and concluded that prey abundance and interference competition by coyotes may regulate fox populations. They suspected that prey abundance and behavioral spacing mechanisms are the major factors regulating fox densities. They felt that coyote-related mortalities may be less important but still might act in concert with prey abundance to reduce the amplitude of fox population variations and keep foxes at lower densities than they might otherwise attain.

White and Garrot (1999) further concluded that high-amplitude fluctuations in kit fox abundance may be related to random, precipitation-influenced changes in prey abundance and need not reflect special or persistent causes such as predation or disease.

Maximum population density in optimum habitat in western Utah was about 2 adults per 259 ha.

Seasonal home range in Utah averaged less than 5 sq km; no overlap for same-sex adults (Daneke et al. 1985, O'Neal et al. 1987). In western Arizona, home range averaged 9.8 sq km in females, 12.3 sq km in males; home ranges commonly overlapped (Zoellick and Smith 1992). In the San Joaquin Valley, California, home ranges were 2.6-5.2 sq km (Morrel 1972). Dispersal distance (mostly juveniles) in Kern County, California, was 1.8-32.3 km (mean 7.8 km) (Scrivner et al. 1987).

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Communication and Perception

Kit foxes have very large ears and excellent hearing. Kit foxes sometimes bark at perceived threats or use a "hacking growl" in intraspecific encounters.

Communication Channels: visual ; acoustic

Perception Channels: visual ; acoustic

  • Ralls, K., P. White. 2003. Diurnal Spacing Patterns in Kit Foxes, a Monogamous Canid. The Southwestern Naturalist, 48/3: "432-436".
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Cyclicity

Comments: Most activity is nocturnal, but young may play outside mouth of den in late afternoon.

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Comments: Basically nocturnal but young may play outside mouth of den in late afternoon.

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Life Expectancy

Lifespan/Longevity

Vulpes macrotis survival rates are dependent on food availability, reproduction, and local predators. Different studies have estimated different life expectancies for kit foxes. Some report lifespans of 3 to 4 years, while others reported 7 to 12 years.  In California a study of 144 kit fox pups showed a 74% mortality rate in pups within the first year.

Range lifespan

Status: wild:
7 (high) years.

Range lifespan

Status: captivity:
12 (high) years.

Average lifespan

Status: wild:
5.5 years.

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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 15.8 years (captivity) Observations: There is one report of one specimen still living after 20 years in captivity (Ronald Nowak 1999). Although not impossible, this was probably an error, and the record longevity in captivity is now considered to be 15.8 years (Richard Weigl 2005).
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Reproduction

Mating occurs in winter; 4-7 young are born in February or March (Biosystems Analysis 1989). Some yearling females produce young, but most do not reproduce until 2 years of age. Young generally disperse in August or September, when 4 or 5 months old. Reproductive success appears to be correlated with prey abundance. See USFWS (2010).

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Breeds from December to January-February. Females are monestrous. Gestation lasts probably 49-56 days. One litter of 4-5 is produced usually in February or March. Pups first emerge from the den at about 1 month. Young are tended by both sexes. Family groups usually split up in October.

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Most studies have shown kit foxes to be monogamous, with pairs mating for life. Occasional polygyny has also been reported. When the female is ready to reproduce, she goes out on her own in search of a den. This usually happens around the month of September. In October, the male kit fox will join her and remain with her until the end of the breeding season. Female young will sometimes delay dispersal and stay an additional year beyond their independence to help raise their siblings.

Mating System: monogamous ; polygynous ; cooperative breeder

Kit foxes mate once per year from mid-December to February. The typical gestation period is 49 to 55 days, and they can produce a litter of 1 to 7 pups, with an average of 4. Births occus from February to mid-March. Although females are able to breed 10 months after birth, many females do not reproduce that first year. Young females are much lower reproductive success than do older females.

Breeding interval: Kit foxes breed once yearly.

Breeding season: Breeding occurs from December to February.

Range number of offspring: 1 to 7.

Range gestation period: 49 to 55 days.

Average weaning age: 8 weeks.

Range time to independence: 5 to 6 months.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 10 (low) months.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 10 (low) months.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); fertilization ; viviparous

Young stay in their birth den until they are 4 weeks old and are weaned at 8 weeks old. The young begin to hunt with their parents at 3 to 4 months old and are independent at 5 to 6 months old. Most young disperse by 8 months old. Both male and female parents care for and protect their young.

Parental Investment: altricial ; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Male, Female); post-independence association with parents; extended period of juvenile learning

  • Utah State University Wildlife Management: Jensen E., Poulsen C., Rogers M., Messmer Dr. T.. Kit Fox (Vulpes macrotis). Wildlife Notebook Series No. 9. Logan, Utah: Department of Fisheries and Wildlife. 1993.
  • Denver Museum of Nature and Science and Meaney & Company, Bear Canyon Consulting, Wyoming Natural Diversity Database: Meaney Dr. C. A., Reed-Eckert M., Beauvais Dr. G. P.. Kit Fox (Vulpes macrotis): A Technical Conservation Assessment. DE-AC08-88NV10617. Rocky Mountain Region: USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Region, Species Conservation Project. 2006.
  • List, R., B. Cypher. 2005. "Vulpes macrotis (kit fox)" (On-line). IUCN Canid Specialist Group. Accessed April 05, 2008 at http://www.canids.org/species/Vulpes_macrotis.htm.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Vulpes macrotis

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N2 - Imperiled

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: T2 - Imperiled

Reasons: Reduced, fragmented range in the San Joaquin Valley and adjacent areas in California, population size probably a few to several thousand individuals; declining due to habitat loss/degradation/fragmentation caused by human activities, interactions with coyotes and red foxes, poisoning efforts that have reduced prey populations, and other factors.

Other Considerations: USFWS (2010) summarized ecological and demographic research pertinent to kit fox conservation, indicating that kit foxes 1) have large home ranges with required size
dependent on local habitat and prey conditions, 2) have highly variable annual survival rates, with adult survival rates of 20 to 86 percent and juvenile survival rates of 14 to 76 percent, depending on the study population and environmental conditions, 3) depend primarily on native prey species as forage, 4) experience population fluctuations in response to prey levels in nonurban locations, 5) sustain high mortality rates due to coyote predation/competition, 6) are generally excluded from rugged terrain by coyotes, and 7) are highly reliant on successful dispersal from population strongholds into suitable habitat in order to sustain subpopulations throughout the range.

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National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N4 - Apparently Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G4 - Apparently Secure

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IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2008

Assessor/s
IUCN SCC Canid Specialist Group (North America Regional Section)

Reviewer/s
Sillero-Zubiri, C. & Hoffmann, M. (Canid Red List Authority)

Contributor/s

Justification
The Kit Fox inhabits the deserts and arid lands of western North America. The species is common to rare, with population densities fluctuating with annual environmental conditions. Estimation of a population size for Mexico, or even population trends, is not possible with current information. However, because natural habitats occupied by the Kit Fox are being transformed, it is safe to assume that, overall, populations in Mexico are declining. The species currently does not meet any of the thresholds for the threatened categories, and is presently assessed as Least Concern.

History
  • 2004
    Least Concern
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Current Listing Status Summary

Status: Endangered
Date Listed: 03/11/1967
Lead Region:   California/Nevada Region (Region 8) 
Where Listed: U.S.A(CA)


Population detail:

Population location: U.S.A(CA)
Listing status: E

For most current information and documents related to the conservation status and management of Vulpes macrotis, see its USFWS Species Profile

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Kit foxes are listed as "Least Concern" on the IUCN red list of threatened species. Populations throughout most of the United States are estimated to be stable. San Joaquin kit foxes, V. macrotis mutica, are considered endangered in the United States, as their habitat continues to be fragmented and lost to agriculture. Kit foxes are listed as species of concern in some states, including Colorado and Utah, where programs exist that are designed to protect kit fox populations. They are considered state threatened in California and state endangered in Oregon. In Mexico it is likely that kit fox populations are in decline as 40% of prairie dog populations have been converted to agriculture since 1994. Kit foxes are considered "vulnerable" in Mexico.

US Federal List: endangered

CITES: no special status

State of Michigan List: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

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Status

Classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List. Eight subspecies are recognised: V. m. nevadensis, V. m. mutica, V. m. arsipus, V. m. devia, V. m. macrotis, V. m. neomexicana, V. m. tenuirostris, V. m. zinseri. The kit fox is considered Vulnerable in Mexico (3). In the United States, the San Joaquin kit fox (V. m. mutica) is federally classified as Endangered, and as Threatened by the state of California (4). In Oregon, the kit fox is classified as Endangered (1).
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Global Short Term Trend: Decline of 10-30%

Comments: Among the three core areas (Western Kern County, Carrizo Plain, Ciervo-Panoche), distributuon/abundance appears to be declining (slow overall decline in Western Kern County; inter-annual fluctuations in Carrizo Plain, presumed declining in Ciervo-Panoche) (USFWS 2010). In the 13 satellite populations, current trend is declining (2), presumed/probably/potentially extirpated (3), isolated (3), unknown (3), or stable (2).

The western Kern County and Carrizo populations appear to be subject to marked population fluctuations that put them at risk of population loss in fewer than 10 years under unfavorable environmental and demographic situations (USFWS 2010)..

Global Long Term Trend: Decline of 80 to >90%

Comments: Over the long term, a verge large decline in distribution and abundance undoubtedly has occurred. Distribution has become smaller and increasingly fragmented and has declined primarily in the northern and central portions of the historical range (USFWS 2010). Abundance also has undergone a major long-term decline (USFWS 2010).

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Global Short Term Trend: Decline of 10-30%

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Population

Population
The species is common to rare. Density fluctuates with annual environmental conditions, which are dependent upon precipitation (Cypher et al. 2000). In Utah, density ranged from 0.1–0.8/km² (Egoscue 1956, 1975). In California, density varied from 0.15–0.24/km² over a period of three years on one study site (White et al. 1996) and from 0.2–1.7/km² over 15 years on another study site (Cypher et al. 2000). Kit Fox densities in prairie dog town complexes in Mexico were 0.32–0.8/km² in Chihuahua (List 1997) and 0.1/km² in Coahuila and Nuevo Leon (Côtera 1996).

In Mexico, data on which to base a population estimate for Kit Foxes are only available from two localities with very specific characteristics (presence of prairie dog towns). Therefore, the estimation of a population size for the country or even population trends is not possible with current information. However, because natural habitats occupied by the Kit Fox are being transformed, it is safe to assume that, overall, populations of the Kit Fox in Mexico are declining. In the past 10 years, about 40% of prairie dog towns in Coahuila and Nuevo Leon were converted to agriculture (L. Scott and E. Estrada unpubl.).

In the United States, Kit Fox abundance is unknown. Population trends are assumed to be relatively stable in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and Nevada where harvests for fur continue. Populations in Idaho, Oregon, and the Mojave Desert in California also may be relatively stable due to a lack of significant threats. Populations are potentially increasing in Colorado where foot-hold trapping was recently banned. Populations of the Endangered San Joaquin Kit Fox in the San Joaquin Valley of California are likely still declining due to continuing habitat loss, fragmentation, and degradation (USFWS 1998).

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Degree of Threat: High - medium

Comments: Decline is attributable to conversion of habitat to irrigated cropland; residential, water, and petroleum development, and poisoning programs that have reduced prey populations (Biosystems Analysis 1989, California DF&G 1990). Interactions with coyotes (predation, competition) can have a significant negative impact on populations (see USFWS 2010), and expanding populations of non-native red foxes may pose a threat in some areas (see USFWS 2010).

USFWS (2010) summarized threats to habitat as follows: Loss, modification, and fragmentation of habitat continue to be the primary threats. Most of the optimal habitat on the valley floor has been converted to agriculture. Although the rate of agricultural conversion on the valley floor has slowed in recent years, urban and agricultural conversion activities have continued to extend up to and into the lower foothill slopes where corridors of residual habitat had remained. In many areas, remaining natural lands have become fragmented, inhibiting movement of kit fox between remnant parcels and delaying or preventing recolonization of retired and restored habitat. Some isolated parcels, including protected lands, have lost the vegetative structure or prey species important to persistence of kit fox populations, resulting in loss of resident kit fox subpopulations. Restoration of the kit fox's natural habitat has proved difficult, and lands, such as retired lands that were thought to be valuable for kit fox recovery, do not necessarily provide adequate conditions for kit fox. In the Western Kern County and the Carrizo Plain core areas, where foxes remain relatively abundant, threats due to oil and gas leasing continue. USFWS and its public and private partners have made great progress in acquiring lands for conservation. Currently, land ownership or management for 60 percent of occurrences is unknown, 13 percent of occurrences are recorded from private lands, and roughly 24 percent of occurrences are recorded from various federal, state, regional, county, and city holdings that are subject to varying management goals and objectives. Kit foxes are mobile predators that require large home ranges, and appropriate vegetative, prey, and predator conditions to persist. Despite recent conservation efforts, kit fox subpopulations appear to be declining.

A number of large-scale solar development projects that would threaten kit fox population clusters are
currently proposed for construction in kit fox habitat (USFWS 2010).

Constriction of available habitat and occurrence of barriers such as the canals and several high-traffic roads potentially limit fox movements (see USFWS 2010).

USFWS (2010) summarized the threat from predation and disease as follows. Predation by large canid predators including the coyote and non-native red fox appears to be a major and increasing threat to the viability of kit fox populations. In most areas of the kit fox's range, coyotes are the primary cause of kit fox mortality, and survival rates of kit fox decrease significantly as coyote-caused mortality increases. Canid predators have increased both in distribution and abundance with the increased land conversion, presence of water sources, and related human activities in the San Joaquin Valley. Abundant coyote populations currently appear to be excluding kit fox from some protected kit fox habitat. Disease does not appear to be an important threat to the kit fox at this time.

USFWS (2010) summarized additional threats as follows. Newer formulations of rodenticides and pesticides subject kit foxes to direct and secondary poisoning, have been linked to kit fox mortality, and are used widely within the range of the kit fox. Although no research to date has quantified the effect of rodenticides on kit fox populations, USFWS expects that rodenticide exposure could have substantial population-level effects, especially where population are small and where kit fox rely on rodent species targeted by rodenticides. The effectiveness of new regulations on the use of rodenticides in preventing kit fox exposure in not currently known. Rodenticides and pesticides may also negatively effect kit fox populations through their reduction of the fox's rodent and insect prey resources. In addition, selenium toxicity may threaten kit fox in some areas on the western side of the San Joaquin Valley where elevated concentrations of selenium are present at the ground surface. Toxicity effects range from reduced appetite and subnormal growth to mortality. Additional threats include loss of individuals to mortality from accidental shooting, vehicle strikes, off-road vehicle use, and research-related activities. Where populations are small, such events could have population-level effects and could increase the threat of stochastic extinction. Where populations are small, inbreeding depression, genetic drift, and stochastic extinction are recognized threats. Climate change may threaten kit fox populations through increased variability in precipitation and severe weather events, which in turn are expected to reduce prey availability.

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Major Threats
The main threat to the long-term survival of the Kit Fox is habitat conversion, mainly to agriculture but also to urban and industrial development. In both western and eastern Mexico, prairie dog towns, which support important populations of Kit Foxes are being converted to agricultural fields, and in eastern Mexico the road network is expanding, producing a concomitant increase in the risk of vehicle mortality. In the San Joaquin Valley of California, habitat conversion for agriculture is slowing, but habitat loss, fragmentation, and degradation associated with industrial and urban development are still occurring at a rapid pace.

In Mexico, Kit Foxes are occasionally sold illegally in the pet market. Kit Foxes are harvested for fur in some states in the USA, but otherwise are not used commercially.
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Predation, predominantly by coyotes (Canis latrans), is the main source of mortality for kit foxes and commonly accounts for over 75 percent of deaths (5). Other species that provide further competition and hunting pressures include the non-native red fox (Vulpes vulpes), the domestic dog (Canis familiaris), bobcat (Felis rufus), and large raptors (7). However, the most significant threat to the long-term survival of the kit fox is habitat conversion, mainly to agricultural land (5). In particular, the habitat of important kit fox populations in western and eastern Mexico is rapidly being converted to agricultural fields, while large numbers of roads are being built in eastern Mexico (5). These changes have caused displacement, direct and indirect mortalities, barriers to movement, and reduction of prey populations (7). In Mexico, kit foxes are occasionally sold illegally in the pet market, and limited harvesting for the fur trade still occurs in some U.S. states (5).
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Management

Global Protection: Few (1-3) occurrences appropriately protected and managed

Comments: Protected at Carrizo Plain.

Needs: Large land acquisitions and exchanges by BLM and TNC in the southern part of the range have been the major recent focus of the recovery effort. Carrizo Plain Reserve provides habitat with appropriate management, but further habitat acquisition, compatible management of various public and private lands, and regional planning efforts are needed to assist in recovery (California Department of Fish and Game 1990).

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Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
CITES – not listed (considered a subspecies of V. velox).

The Kit Fox is considered Vulnerable in Mexico (SEDESOL 1994). In the United States, the San Joaquin Kit Fox (V. m. mutica) is federally classified as Endangered, and as Threatened by the state of California (USFWS 1998). In Oregon, Kit Foxes are classified as Endangered. Harvests are not permitted in Idaho, Oregon, or California, and the Kit Fox is a protected furbearer species (i.e., regulated harvests) in Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. In Mexico, the vulnerable status of the Kit Fox grants conservation measures for the species, but these are not enforced. In the United States, state and federal protections for Kit Foxes are being enforced.

In Mexico, Kit Foxes are found in the Biosphere Reserves of El Vizcaino, Mapimi and El Pinacate, in the Area of Special Protection of Cuatro Ciénegas, and are probably found in another eight protected areas throughout their range. In the United States, they occur in numerous protected areas throughout their range. The Endangered subspecies V. m. mutica occurs in the Carrizo Plain National Monument and various other federal, state, and private conservation lands.

Efforts are underway to protect the prairie dog towns of both eastern (Pronatura Noreste) and western Mexico (Institute of Ecology from the National University of Mexico), which are known to be strongholds for the kit fox, but no specific actions focused on the kit fox are being undertaken in Mexico. In the United States, a recovery plan has been completed (USFWS 1998) and is being implemented for the San Joaquin Kit Fox. Recovery actions include protection of essential habitat, and demographic and ecological research in both natural and anthropogenically modified landscapes.

No captive breeding efforts are currently being conducted for kit foxes. Facilities such as the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson, Arizona, California Living Museum in Bakersfield, California, and several zoos keep live kit foxes for display and educational purposes. Also, Humboldt State University in Arcata, California maintains a small number of kit foxes for research and education.

Gaps in knowledge
In general, demographic and ecological data are needed throughout the range of the kit fox so that population trends and demographic patterns can be assessed. In Mexico, information available on the Kit Fox is scarce. The most important gaps in our knowledge of the species are the present distribution of the species and population estimates throughout its range. General biological information is needed from more localities in the Mexican range of the kit fox. In the United States, information is required on the San Joaquin Kit Fox including assessing the effects of roads and pesticides on Kit Foxes, investigating dispersal patterns and corridors, determining metapopulation dynamics and conducting viability analyses, developing conservation strategies in anthropogenically altered landscapes, assessing threats from non-native Red Foxes, and range-wide population monitoring.
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Conservation

Kit foxes are found in numerous protected areas throughout their range. In Mexico, these include the Biosphere Reserves of El Vizcaino, Mapimi and El Pinacate, in the Area of Special Protection of Cuatro Ciénegas. In the U.S., the Endangered subspecies V. m. mutica occurs in the Carrizo Plain National Monument and various other federal, state, and private conservation lands. Poaching of the species is prohibited in Idaho, Oregon, and California, and the kit fox is a protected furbearer species (i.e., hunting is regulated) in Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. A recovery plan has been developed in the United States, which is currently being implemented for the San Joaquin subspecies (V. m. mutica). This plan includes protection of essential habitat, as well as demographic and ecological research. Captive foxes are held for display and educational purposes at facilities such as the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson, Arizona; California Living Museum in Bakersfield, California; and several zoos, although no captive breeding efforts are being conducted at present (5). Fortunately, the kit fox is still considered relatively common in many parts of its range. Nevertheless, population size and trends need to be quantified and closely monitored to ensure that the species does not reach the Endangered status of the San Joaquin subspecies (V. m. mutica), which sadly faces a more perilous and uncertain future (1).
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Kit foxes can have a negative impact on humans by carrying diseases. The main disease of concern is plague, which foxes contract from fleas.

Negative Impacts: injures humans (carries human disease); causes or carries domestic animal disease

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Kit foxes are important members of native ecosystems, helping to control rodent populations through predation.

Positive Impacts: research and education; controls pest population

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Risks

Stewardship Overview: USFWS (2010) presented the following conservation needs:

1. Mapping efforts should quantify the acreage of suitable/native habitat and altered or degraded habitat in core, satellite, and linkage areas at 1) the time of the 1998 Recovery Plan, and 2) the current time. This will be useful in prioritizing conservation strategies and in determining progress in meeting recovery goals for protection of core and satellite areas. The locations, acreage, and quality (or characteristics) of protected habitat could also be compiled and mapped.

2. Studies that assist in determining the population-level effects of contaminants, including first and second generation anticoagulant rodenticides, on kit fox or surrogate species are needed. Studies that test correlations between rodenticide use and kit fox population parameters, measure sublethal effects on behavior, or quantify rodenticide/pesticide effects on availability of prey in relation to the energetic needs of the kit fox would provide information useful to recovery actions.

3. Focus land acquisitions on the establishment of large blocks of land (at least 10,000 acres in size) on the San Joaquin Valley floor and western fringes. Such large parcels are critical to supporting sustainable populations of kit fox for long-term conservation, and should be linked with protected broad dispersal corridors. These acquisitions are most likely to aid kit fox recovery if they build on existing protected lands to achieve larger expanses of protected land, if acquired lands possess the vegetative structure and native prey base that are associated with thriving kit fox populations, and if acquired lands are not isolated from extant populations of either the kit fox or its prey species. Large holdings of native habitat are also expected to be less suitable for coyotes and red fox that are responsible for high levels of kit fox mortality. Lands no longer suitable for agriculture, such as those targeted for land retirement, may be restored and conserved through fee title acquisition, conservation easement acquisition, or conservation banking arrangements from willing sellers or participants. However, on suboptimal habitat, conservation planning should recognize the lag times inherent in restoration of the ecological community needed to support the kit fox. Linkages will be most effective in contributing to kit fox recovery where they link to habitat that retains the characteristics
needed to sustain resident populations.

4. A range-wide population census should be conducted using a methodology that assures statistically significant data collected for all areas. Collaboration with U.S. Geological Service on methods that utilize occupancy models may be a promising approach, but needs additional consideration. Some biologists have suggested that more northerly satellite areas and/or linkages have become population sinks for the kit fox, and this possibility merits further study to determine what factors contribute to population status in these areas, and how these factors may be altered to promote range-wide recovery. The amount of gene flow between subpopulations of the kit fox should be confirmed using appropriate methods, adequate sample size, and inclusion of subpopulations of interest, including isolated groupings in the valley center and subpopulations occurring along the west side of the valley.

5. Consultations on the location of solar facilities may wish to consider lands that are drainage impaired and that may not constitute suitable habitat for the kit fox due to level of groundwater present, condition of site vegetation, presence and density of preferred prey species, and isolation from other suitable habitat. These lands may be a potential alternative to development of solar facilities in areas north of the Carrizo Plain and
Panoche Valley.

See also the recovery plan (USFWS 1998).

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Wikipedia

Kit fox

For other uses, see Kit (disambiguation).

The kit fox (Vulpes macrotis) is a fox species of North America. Its range is primarily in the southwestern United States and northern and central Mexico. Some mammalogists classify it as conspecific with the swift fox, V. velox, but molecular systematics imply that the two species are distinct.

Range[edit]

The northernmost part of its range is the arid interior of Oregon. Its eastern limit is southwestern Colorado. It can be found south through Nevada, Utah, southeastern California, Arizona, New Mexico, and into western Texas.[3]

Appearance[edit]

The kit fox is the smallest species of the family Canidae found in North America. It has large ears, between 71 and 95 mm (2.8 and 3.75 in), that help the fox lower its body temperature and give it exceptional hearing (much like those of the fennec fox). This species exhibits sexual dimorphism, with the male being slightly larger. The average species weight is between 1.6 and 2.7 kg (3.5 and 6.0 lbs). The body length is 455 to 535 mm (18 to 21 in). The tail adds another 250–340 mm (9.85–13.4 in) to its length.[3]

It usually has a gray coat, with rusty tones, and a black tip to its tail. Unlike the gray fox, it has no stripe along the length of its tail. Its color ranges from yellowish to gray, and the back is usually darker than the majority of its coat; its belly and inner ears are usually lighter. It has distinct dark patches around the nose.[3]

Diet[edit]

The kit fox is mostly a nocturnal[4] animal, but sometimes ventures out of its den during the day. It usually goes out to hunt shortly after sunset, mostly eating small animals such as kangaroo rats, cottontail rabbits, black-tailed jackrabbits (Lepus californicus), meadow voles, hares, prairie dogs, insects, lizards, snakes, fish, and ground-dwelling birds. It will scavenge carrion. While primarily carnivorous, if food is scarce, it has been known to eat tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum), cactus fruits (Carnegiea gigantea) and other fruits. Different kit fox families can occupy the same hunting grounds, but do not generally go hunting at the same time.[3]

Habitat[edit]

Kit foxes favor arid climates, such as desert scrub, chaparral, and grasslands. Good examples of common habitats are sagebrush Artemisia tridentata and saltbrush Atriplex polycarpa. They can be found in urban and agricultural areas, too. They are found at elevations of 400 to 1,900 meters (1,300 to 6,200 feet) above sea level.[3]

Mating[edit]

Male and female kit foxes usually establish monogamous mating pairs during October and November. Polygamous mating relationships have been observed. Pairs can change year to year. They mate from December to February, when they use larger family dens.[clarification needed] Litters are born throughout March and April, usually containing one to seven pups, and average four pups. The gestation is 49 to 55 days. Pups do not leave the den until they are four weeks old. They are weaned after about eight weeks and become independent at five to six months old. They become sexually mature at 10 months. Both parents take part in raising and protecting their young. The average lifespan of a wild kit fox is 5.5 years. In captivity, they can live 12 years. One California study of 144 kit fox pups showed a 74% mortality rate in pups within the first year.[5][3]

Subspecies[edit]

The kit fox has no recognized subspecies, although some populations have been proposed as subspecies.[1]

The San Joaquin kit fox (Vulpes macrotis mutica) was formerly common in the San Joaquin Valley of California. Its 1990 population was estimated to be 7,000, and it is now considered endangered. On September 26, 2007, Wildlands Inc. announced the designation of the 684-acre (2.77 km2) Deadman Creek Conservation Bank, which is intended specifically to protect habitat of the San Joaquin kit fox.[6] Causes of population declines include heavy competition with the red fox and habitat loss.

The desert kit fox (V. m. arsipus) lives in the Mojave Desert.

The Southern California kit fox (V. m. macrotis) was a population of kit foxes native to desert regions of Southern California which became extinct in 1903.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Wozencraft, W. C. (2005). "Order Carnivora". In Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 532–628. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494. 
  2. ^ IUCN SCC Canid Specialist Group (North America Regional Section) (2008). Vulpes macrotis. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 22 March 2009. Database entry includes a brief justification of why this species is of least concern
  3. ^ a b c d e f ADW: Vulpes macrotis: Information. Animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu (2008-04-05). Retrieved on 2011-09-16.
  4. ^ Digital Desert - Kit Fox
  5. ^ "Kit Fox (Vulpes macrotis): A Technical Conservation Assessment", 2006
  6. ^ Kit fox Gets Some Protection, In California, Environmental News Network, September 27, 2007
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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: Vulpes macrotis (kit fox) was regarded as conspecific with V. velox (swift fox) by Dragoo et al. (1990) (conclusion based mainly on protein-electrophoretic study) and some previous authors. Jones et al. (1992) and Wozencraft (in Wilson and Reeder 1993) concurred in treating velox and macrotis as conspecific. Dragoo et al. (1990) included macrotis as a subspecies of V. velox; other nominal subspecies were regarded as unworthy of recognition. Mercure et al. (1993) examined mtDNA variability in 10 areas throughout most of the range of the kit and swift foxes; they concluded that kit and swift foxes hybridize over a limited geographic area and should be recognized as separate species; they suggested that the San Joaquin Valley population, though not very distinctive, be recognized as a subspecies because, relative to variation within kit foxes, it appeared as the most distinct single phylogeographic unit and is an isolated population; mtDNA data did not support any of the other 10 subspecific designations of kit and swift fox (Hall 1981).

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Comments: Vulpes macrotis is here treated as a species separate from V. velox.

Vulpes macrotis (kit fox) was regarded as conspecific with V. velox (swift fox) by Dragoo et al. (1990) (conclusion based mainly on protein-electrophoretic study) and some previous authors. Jones et al. (1992) and Wozencraft (in Wilson and Reeder 1993) concurred in treating velox and macrotis as conspecific. Dragoo et al. (1990) included macrotis as a subspecies of V. velox; other nominal subspecies were regarded as unworthy of recognition.

Mercure et al. (1993) examined mtDNA variability in 10 areas throughout most of the range of the kit and swift foxes; they concluded that kit and swift foxes hybridize over a limited geographic area and should be recognized as separate species; they suggested that the San Joaquin Valley population, though not very distinctive, be recognized as a subspecies because, relative to variation within kit foxes, it appeared as the most distinct single phylogeographic unit and is an isolated population; mtDNA data did not support any of the other 10 subspecific designations of kit and swift fox (Hall 1981). The mammal lists by Baker et al. (2003) and Wozencraft (in Wilson and Reeder 2005) followed Mercure et al. (1993) in recognizing V. macrotis and V. velox as distinct species.

See Dragoo and Wayne (2003) for a review of the systematics of these foxes.

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