Riparian Zone Retreat and population studies Claire Sistek Biology II Period 1
Niche of Vulpes Vulpes ( Red Fox)
Habitat: The red fox prefers open fields surrounded by shrubs, trees, or hedges. They need a habitat with an abundant supply of rodents and other small mammals
The red fox depends on small animals such as shrews, voles, rabbits, squirrels, mice, and snakes. It also eats berries, nuts, and some insects including grasshoppers. Adult red fox have few predators except for mange mites and other parasites but young foxes are preyed on by hawks and owls.
Red fox are usually seen hunting at night, sunset, and dawn. They hunt by stalking and digging for their prey. They work alone and can jump high into the air to catch birds. They can hear the animals they stalk underground and will dig them up. Their coloring blends in with the bark of trees and in the fields they hunt in.
Factors which Affect Birth Rate of the Red Fox
The Red Fox usually mates in the winter
Due to their short live spans females, vixens, usually only mate two or three times and males mate only once
The gestation period is typically between 51and 53 days
Around four offspring are born each litter
Vixens sometimes get help caring for their young by their sisters or other female family members, the male is not allowed into the den until the birth. After that he is allowed to bring food into the den.
They are ready to reproduce from ten months to about three years.
Factors Which Affect the Death Rate of the Red Fox
Red foxes eat mainly small mammals that live in fields or near the edges of the woods. They don’t have many symbiotic relationships because they are such solitary animals.
Average life span is 3-4 years in the wild and about twelve years in captivity
Both ticks and mange mites are common parasites that can harm the red fox
Because red fox are solitary animals overpopulation can result in a low food supply.
Food Chain of the Red Fox Sunflower Seeds Producer Autotroph Field Mouse Primary Consumer Omnivore Garter Snake Secondary Consumer Carnivore Red Fox Tertiary Consumer Omnivore
Food web of Assigned Organism Grass: Producer Grasshopper: Herbivore Toad: Omnivore Acorn: Producer Red Fox: Consumer Field Mouse: Consumer Red Tailed Hawk: Consumer Snake: Consumer Squirrel: Consumer
Population Sampling Techniques
Mark and recapture is one kind of population sampling. Animals from a species are caught and tagged in a certain area and then let go and recaptured again in that same area. Another way to test population size is by looking at predator prey relationships like we did with the mice and weasels.
The predator prey technique would work well with the red fox because like the weasels they eat a lot of small mammals like field mice. So you could do it the same way. You could also do the mark and recapture method but it may be more difficult because foxes are very solitary animals so there might not be many in the same area.
Stream Quality Data & Analysis
This graph represents good stream quality because the highest number of organisms are in class I and the least are in class III.
A high amount of class I organisms means the stream is a good quality stream because they need high water quality to survive. Class II organisms can survive in some pollution so they represent a medium quality stream. A high amount of class III organisms is bad because they can live in high levels of pollution
Red Fox eat crayfish and sometimes turtles so because they live in streams if the water quality is poor and a fox constantly is eating these organisms it could be dangerous to them .
If most of the animals in the stream were class III organisms then the water quality would be poor. If a fox ate crayfish from this stream it could be harmful to it’s health as well as the other organisms because of the poor water quality.
Water Testing Data & Analysis
Some pH levels are too acidic or too basic for certain organisms to survive. Nitrates and phosphates should not be high because it means there is pollution. Oxygen in streams is a good thing because it means the stream is healthy.
The ideal range for pH is about 7. If pH is lower and or higher certain organisms could not survive. Nitrates and phosphates should be at zero. Oxygen levels should have been higher at Powdermill because it is running water. If there isn’t enough oxygen organisms won’t be able to live there.
Red Foxes would live better near a stream habitat because the water is healthier and the animals they rely on for food live in or around streams.
If turbidity in a stream is high the water clogs the gills of organisms and interferes with predator prey relationships because they can’t see easily or cling to rocks. Temperature is important because if it is too cold or too warm certain organisms can’t survive .
Soil Testing & Analysis
pH is important because it controls how plants utilize their nutrients. Potash is important because it stimulates flowering and is needed in photosynthesis. Nitrogen is important because increases the protein content and gives plants their green color. Phosphorus is important because it is used in root formation and hastens growth. .
The ideal pH is 7, the ideal amount of potash is 12 , the ideal amount of nitrogen and phosphates are medium.
If chemical levels are off it can make soil too acidic or basic and can interfere with plant growth which affects the whole ecosystem.
Positive and Negative Factors
The marsh and mine waters would be bad for a red fox to live around because their oxygen levels are too low for the organisms it eats to survive in. It would be best to live near a stream because the animals it eats would be able to live there also.
The pH was slightly acidic in the riparian zone so and the other chemicals were off as well. This could interfere with the growth of berries red foxes depend on for food.
Runoff from nearby farms is harmful to stream ecosystems. This pollution makes the water quality poor so that organisms can’t survive as well.
I learned how pH, nitrates, potassium, and phosphates affect stream and soil quality and how that can have an impact on the entire ecosystem.
I thought it was interesting how the quality of soil and the amounts of things like potash and nitrates can affect not only plants but also stream quality .
I would like to research more about specific species of animals and their relationships with other animals in their habitats.