Arctic foxes change tundra ecosystem

Arctic foxes change tundra ecosystem

August 09, 2023

Scientists have been observing the predators for three years and come to the conclusion that the vegetation around their holes is lusher and dense.

#ARCTIC. #SIBERIA. THIS IS TAIMYR. Based on satellite images, Canadian scientists have concluded that oases with thicker and higher vegetation appear around the burrows of Arctic foxes rather than in the rest of the tundra. Animals fertilize and loosen the soil. Researchers noticed such areas for a long time and called them arctic fox gardens – with the help of photographs, Canadians dispelled doubts that these “gardens” are real.

Arctic foxes often use their shelters for many generations – this enhances their impact on the ecosystem, according to the scientific website, citing an article in the Ecosystems journal. The authors studied an area of 1200 square kilometers in Canada’s Vapusk national park. There are 84 fox burrows on this territory. Based on the images, scientists came to the conclusion that predators prefer to dig burrows on hills in areas devoid of vegetation.

For three years, the researchers observed Arctic fox oases and random areas of the tundra. Observations have shown that the productivity of vegetation around Arctic fox burrows is higher than in other areas.

Canadian researchers are confident that arctic foxes do not settle in areas with lush vegetation, but increase the productivity of vegetation around their holes, and they can be called ecosystem engineers.

Norilsk animal photographer, naturalist Olga Alexandrova told the This Is Taimyr that she had observed fox oases in the tundra:

“Arctic foxes settle in dry hilly areas. We call them polar fox hills. They are quite extensive, with many passages and exits”.

Earlier, polar explorers filmed how polar foxes arranged races in front of a nuclear icebreaker on the Yenisey. Arctic foxes in Finnish Lapland have bred for the first time in 26 years. Also, we talked about the journey through the tundra of the famous albino fox Tosruy – the animal escaped from scientists and covered 250 kilometers on Taimyr peninsula.

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Text: Angelica Stepanova, Photo: Olga Alexandrova and M. Johnson-Bice

August 09, 2023

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