The golden jackal, Canis aureus , and the red fox, Vulpes vulpes , are two common canids in Israel. Although the two species have similar diets, the jackal is about three times larger than the red fox. The current evidence for interspecific competition between these two canids is circumstantial and indirect. In this study we aimed to measure experimentally the response of red foxes to increasing exposure to the presence of the golden jackal. Our field experiments comprised three stimuli: urine as a scent stimulus, a mounted specimen and urine as a static animal-image stimulus, and a caged pet animal as a live animal stimulus. The treatment and control were placed near food trays, and the behaviour of foxes around these trays was documented by video recorders. In most cases, the presence of scent or cast of a golden jackal did not alter the behaviour of the foxes. However, foxes avoided the test arena when a live jackal was present. This finding provides strong evidence that red foxes fear jackals, and shows that foxes are more concerned when a live jackal is present. The possible implications of the observed fox behaviour for the understanding of large-scale competitive exclusion among canid species are discussed.
Animal Behaviour – Elsevier
Published: Mar 1, 2006
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