The evolution, behavioural ecology, and conservation of island foxes
The island fox (Urocyon littoralis) is endemic to the California Channel Islands, a continental archipelago located off the coast of the southwestern United States. A descendent of the mainland gray fox (U. cinereo argenteus), it is hypothesized that island foxes first colonized the three northern Channel Islands (Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, and San Miguel) by chance. Native Americans then transported foxes from these islands to three southern Channel Islands (Santa Catalina, San Clemente, and San Nicolas). Each island's fox population is currently recognized as a distinct subspecies, and both the hypothesized colonization scheme and the current taxonomic classification are supported by morphological and genetic evidence. This chapter discusses the evolution, ecology, and conservation of the island fox.
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