Thursday, December 21, 2017

Grey Fox

From John Wilson's camera trap South of town..


Retrieverman said...

My favorite canid!

There is some suggestion in a recent mtDNA study that there are actually two species of gray fox on the North American mainland, one that lives in the East and one that lives in the West. The study is mtDNA only, so it could be in error, and it only included Georgia foxes to represent the Eastern samples. The island fox fit within the Western "species," of course.

This is the most American of all dogs. The lineage that led to the modern species split between 8 to 12 million years ago. Urocyon had a sister lineage called Metalopex that was pretty similar, but it is not closely related to anything else called a fox in anywhere else in the world.

I'd like to see a genome-wide study performed on gray foxes like the one that was done on red foxes a few years ago, which showed that red foxes living the Eastern US are not derived from English imports but are most closely related to Eastern Canadian ones, and that North American and Old World red foxes are very much diverged from one another, enough to consider them separate species.

Retrieverman said...

That strip of black fur that runs down the tail is a hackle that they raise when they are alarmed or aggressive.

Anonymous said...

So,I'm curious--what's in the tub? As an incorrigible wildlife feeder myself(they scavenge off us ANYWAY, whether one is purposefully putting out food or inadvertantly supplying it!) I attract foxes(both reds and greys) with dog kibble in my bird seed mixture(LOTS of birds like the dog kibble--jays, woodpeckers, wrens, thrashers--but especially CROWS! Who are more than welcome at my feeders!)--as well as possums, coons, flying squirrels, and feral cats that have to keep an eye out for the coyotes! I think the coyotes come by more for those feeding at my wildlife feeders, than the feed itself! As do all the hawks and owls! But they are welcome as well........Just TRY and convince those who religiously believe red foxes in North America ALL came from the few imports brought over by the Fox Hunting English, who can't seem to realize that just because some were imported, doesn't mean there weren't already some here(including numerous distinctive subspecies that could not have developed in a mere century or two...).This is one of those notions or incorrect factoids some self-proclaimed "Nature experts" love to trot out. And shows they know NOTHING of hunter mentality(CONSTANTLY "restocking" areas they hunt in with the critter of their choice!), nor have they studied native accounts, and/or trapping records that dispel this treasured myth. The only real question is not whether we had reds before the European invasion, but just WHERE exactly they were distributed. Anyway, I love them both, and am glad to have them as neighbors--and occasional dinner guests!....L.B.

Retrieverman said...

The North American red species was known in Virginia during the Pleistocene. There is actually a big story about red foxes walking across the frozen Chesapeake Bay from Maryland in the 1700s that is the supposed origin of the red fox in Virginia, and it may be so. But even if the English red fox was established here for a time, genetically it has been replaced by the Eastern Canadian variant, which is what we have today.

Yes. And native accounts are very important to understanding historic wildlife distribution.