The Affects Of Global Warming On The Arctic Fox

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The Arctic Fox, Alopex lagopus, is considered to be one of the first mammals to have colonized Sweden and Finland after the last Ice Age. Due to their thick fur, large fat reserves, specialized circulatory systems that help them retain heat, and their ability to lower their metabolic rate to endure periods of starvation make them the perfect candidate to live in the two coldest habitats in the world—the Arctic tundra and the frozen sea. These habitats are found in Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Russia, and Scandinavia. According to worldwildlife.org, temperatures in the Arctic are rising twice as fast as the rest of the world (1). Climate change is believed to affect the Arctic Fox population in three important ways—habitat loss, changes in prey abundance, and increased competition with red foxes.
Out of the three, habitat loss is considered to be the largest threat to the Arctic Fox population. Due to rising temperatures, sea ice is not as abundant and new plant species are beginning to emerge. Sea ice is important to the Arctic Fox population because they rely on the extra space to find food and there are fewer predators (2). Because the sea ice habitat provides important winter food resources for the Arctic foxes, especially in low lemming population years, the loss of the sea-ice habitat is likely to result in lower winter survival and reproductive success for Arctic fox population. Due to the decrease in food resources, Arctic Foxes may start to wander into human settlements in search of food which will increase the chance of foxes being killed by human inhabitants. A decrease in food resources and hunting grounds is not the only issue with the loss of sea ice habitats. According to the Species Survival Commission, as temperatures rise new plant species from the south will begin to colonize the new region. They believe large areas of tundra habitat will be replaced by boreal forest which is highly unsuitable for the Arctic Fox population (3).
This issue also goes hand in hand with the decrease in prey abundance. While Arctic Foxes tend to hunt their prey they are also known to scavenge when food resources are low. Studies have proven the health of the Arctic Fox species is closely related to the Lemming population. This species is a very important prey species for the Arctic Fox. When the Lemming population is...

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