Research group of Biology School of Lomonosov MSU finished their summer field season on Medny Island. As a result, they have conducted monitoring of numbers and composition of arctic fox population.
Employees of MSU Biology School Anton Pletnev and Daniil Tikunov worked in the southern part of the island on May 18 – August 15. They were searching for reproductive families of arctic foxes to determine their sex ratio and number of pups. The scientists collected their demographic characteristics (number of adult and young individuals, sex ration), tagged the animal with plastic ear tags.
Moreover, the team put GPS collars on four arctic foxes living on Yugo-Vostochnoye rookery. The tracking devices registered the location every five minutes.
The collected data will be valuable in estimating a day-to-day activity of an arctic fox family, its exact habitat boundaries and how far can these family habitats overlap (overlap zone is a kind of a buffer zone, where arctic foxes from different families do not compete over territory and remain neutral).
Medny Island arctic fox with an ear tag. Photo by Anton Pletnev
The scientists plan to cover the details of the research in several research papers and popular articles.
Population of these animals on Medny Island survived a sharp decline in the 70-80s, when effected by ear mange. Starting from the beginning of the 90s their numbers stabilized on a very low level – less than 150 adults. The subspecies was included in the Red Data Book of Russia.
MSU Biology School conducted annual monitoring of Medny Island population from 1994 to 2012. In 2017 and 2019 the research continued.