Authors: DIMITRIOS BAKALOUDIS, VASILEIOS BONTZORLOS, CHRISTOS VLACHOS, MALAMATI PAPAKOSTA, EVANGGELOS CHATZINIKOS, SOTIRIOS BRAZIOTIS, VASILEIOS KONTSIOTIS
Abstract: The diet of the red fox (Vulpes vulpes) has been well studied in Europe, but limited information exists about its feeding habits in Greece and in other Mediterranean landscapes. We studied the diet variation of the red fox by analyzing contents from 219 red fox stomachs in central Greece from 2003 to 2005. We used canonical correspondence analysis (CCA) and quasi-distribution generalized linear model (GLM) response curves to investigate whether the trophic groups of the red fox diet varied temporally and/or spatially with environmental factors. Mammals, arthropods, and plants were the most important trophic groups in the diet; in particular, the European brown hare (Lepus europaeus) was consumed significantly more within hunting areas. The CCA produced a significant model for the response (trophic groups) and predictor datasets (environmental, spatial, and temporal variables). In addition, GLM response curves resulted in 13 best-fitted complexity models, which were evaluated with the Akaike information criterion. The results demonstrated 4 basic predation patterns. First, the red fox showed an opportunistic exploitation of food resources according to seasonal appearance, with temporal gradients being the main drivers affecting predation. Second, the red fox had a generalist diet, consuming cold-blooded vertebrates, arthropods, birds, and small-sized carnivores in a highly seasonal way. Third, the diet showed uniform predation on small mammals in all habitat types during the study. Finally, the red fox relies on hares within hunting areas, irrespective of habitat type or temporal gradients. Additional and long-term studies are needed to understand in depth the mechanisms involved in those observed high predation rates on hares.
Keywords: Habitat, hunting, predation, temporal variables, Greece
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