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Swift Fox Symposium

Dens and Den Sites of the Swift Fox, Vulpes velox, in western Kansas

Victoria L. Jackson and Jerry R. Choate. Department of Biological Sciences and Sternberg Museum of Natural History, Fort Hays State University, Hays, KS 67601-4099. Present address of VLJ: Department of Biological Sciences, P.O. Box 305220, University of North Texas, Denton, TX 76203-5220.

In agricultural areas of the Great Plains, the swift fox inhabits native rangeland and both cultivated and fallow cropland. It is not known whether differences in these habitats affect denning of this burrow-dependent species. To answer this question, we compared dens and den sites of swift foxes in cropland and rangeland. Features of dens that we studied included size, number, direction, and shape of openings, distance between openings and dimension of tailings. Features of den sites studied included slope, surface roughness, surface ruggedness, surrounding vegetation, and soil. Finally, we compared surface roughness, surface ruggedness, and vegetation surrounding den sites in rangeland and cropland with those features in randomly selected sites in both habitats. Dens and den sites were similar in most respects in these habitats. The lack of appreciable differences between dens and den sites in rangeland and cropland and randomly selected sites in rangeland and cropland suggests that the swift fox is well suited to exploit the resources in a patchwork environment.

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