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Title: Diet of a threatened endemic fox reveals variation in sandy beach resource use on California Channel Islands
The coastal zone provides foraging opportunities for insular populations of terrestrial mammals, allowing for expanded habitat use, increased dietary breadth, and locally higher population densities. We examined the use of sandy beach resources by the threatened island fox ( Urocyon littoralis ) on the California Channel Islands using scat analysis, surveys of potential prey, beach habitat attributes, and stable isotope analysis. Consumption of beach invertebrates, primarily intertidal talitrid amphipods ( Megalorchestia spp.) by island fox varied with abundance of these prey across sites. Distance-based linear modeling revealed that abundance of giant kelp ( Macrocystis pyrifera ) wrack, rather than beach physical attributes, explained the largest amount of variation in talitrid amphipod abundance and biomass across beaches. δ 13 C and δ 15 N values of fox whisker (vibrissae) segments suggested individualism in diet, with generally low δ 13 C and δ 15 N values of some foxes consistent with specializing on primarily terrestrial foods, contrasting with the higher isotope values of other individuals that suggested a sustained use of sandy beach resources, the importance of which varied over time. Abundant allochthonous marine resources on beaches, including inputs of giant kelp, may expand habitat use and diet breadth of the island more » fox, increasing population resilience during declines in terrestrial resources associated with climate variability and long-term climate change. « less
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Hyrenbach, David
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National Science Foundation
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