February 28, 2021

The long journey of an arctic fox: from Norway to Canada in 76 days | Society

From Norway to Canada, a young specimen of the Arctic fox traveled 3,506 kilometers in just 76 days, traversing the Arctic cliffs on one of the longest recorded trips of this species. The fox left from Spitsbergen, in the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, on March 26, 2018, and arrived on the island of Ellesmere, in Canada, on June 10 of that year. In a straight line, the distance covered is 1,789 kilometers. It is, according to scientists, the first satellite tracking of the dispersion of this species between continents.

"Crossing vast expanses of sea ice and glaciers, the female moved at an average of 46.3 kilometers a day," explain the Norwegian Polar Institute researchers who have documented this journey. The highest recorded speed, 155 kilometers in a day, occurred in the ice sheet of northern Greenland. It is also the fastest record of this species.

The animal is one of the 54 specimens that the Norwegian Polar Institute has studied since 2012 through necklaces with satellite tracking devices. Belonging to the subpopulation known as blue, dark colored and more typical of the coastal areas, the fox was captured through a trap cage on July 29, 2017, probably near its birthplace, around the Fjor-tende glacier Julibreen, according to the researchers explain in a document entitled The dispersal of the Arctic fox from Svalbard to Canada: the long journey through the sea ice of a female.

At the time of his capture, the animal weighed 1,900 grams, and was listed as a young specimen. The total distance recorded since the beginning of the follow-up, on March 1 of last year, until it settled on the island of Ellesmeere four months later, the fox traveled a total of 4,415 kilometers. The necklace transmitted a signal for three hours a day.

According to his record, the fox was first met with ice-covered sea on March 26, which he used to leave the island of Spitsbergeny heading northeast. A day later, his route turned north and east, towards Greenland. It took 21 days to arrive, on April 16. Finally, he arrived on the island of Ellesmere on June 10, where he remained in a limited area around the peninsula of Fosheim Peninsula. On two occasions, its travel rhythm slowed down to 10 kilometers per day for 48 hours, which, according to the researchers, could be due to physical barriers in the seabed, bad weather or any source of food. . It is not known what happened to the animal since February 6 of this year, when the transmitter stopped issuing its signal.

The route followed by the arctic fox.

The route followed by the arctic fox.

The blue polar foxes, according to the researchers, Eva Fuglei and Arnaud Tarroux, are of a darker color, reflecting that they move often in terrains of this tone, in ice and coastal regions without snow in winter. They live mainly from food from the sea. The other subspecies, of the interior, is of a predominantly white color and feeds mainly on a rodent, the lemming. The long journey of the fox under study also implies that it changed ecosystem and source of food, from one coastal to one where lemming is its main prey.

Although the inverse case is more frequent, the one of the emigration of foxes of interior to coastal zones, where the sources of food are more stable, sometimes, as it is the case, the blue foxes realize long trips, probably due to the scarcity of Dams for several weeks in winter.

According to the researchers, there are very few populations of this species of fox totally isolated, although the rapid warming of the Arctic could change it. In the waters around Svalbard, the reduction in the extent of the sea ice has already affected several species of marine mammals. According to the authors of the study, if Svalbard ends up having no ice during the whole year, the population of Arctic foxes would be isolated, although it could still be viable, as in Iceland.

(tagsToTranslate) long (t) trip (t) fox (t) arctic (t) arctic (t) norway (t) canada (t) 76 (t) day (t) animal (t) walk (t) 3,500 kilometers (t) speed (t) mean (t) medium (t) 46 kilometers

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