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Arctic Foxes Are Great Gardeners
Fox Dens Boast Ecological Enrichments


The arctic fox is found in many countries around the world, spanning from Canada to Russia. It has three seasonal fur colors, one purely white (winter), one really brown (summer) and one that is grey (spring and fall).

A recent report from the Department of Biological Studies at the University of Manitoba shows that the immediate area around arctic fox dens is much more ecologically diverse than the surrounding tundra.

Compared to the rest of the tundra, the soil encompassing arctic fox dens is three times as rich in nitrate and phosphorus levels. As a result, arctic plants, such as willows, dune grass and wildflowers, will sprout near these dens. This ends up highlighting a stark contrast between the immediate areas around arctic fox dens and the outside, surrounding tundra.

This occurs because when arctic foxes hunt they will bring their meals back to their dens. After consuming the meal, the discarded carcasses will remain close to the dens and resultantly attract other wildlife to feed on them as well. These feeding grounds will become littered with nitrate and phosphorus rich waste that is discarded by both the arctic foxes and the other wildlife, equating to a much more fertile soil surrounding the dens. This process usually continues in the same area for generations due to the foxes opting to reuse the same burrows. Over a few years, the fox dens will appear to have their own little lush gardens!

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December 8, 2019, 8:04 am PDT

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