Importance of Native Grassland Habitat for Den-Site Selection of Indian Foxes in a Fragmented Landscape

Arjun Punjabi, Girish and Chellam, Ravi and Vanak, Abi Tamim (2013) Importance of Native Grassland Habitat for Den-Site Selection of Indian Foxes in a Fragmented Landscape. PLoS ONE , 8 (10). pp. 1-9. ISSN 1932-6203

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Fragmentation of native habitats is now a ubiquitous phenomenon affecting wildlife at various scales. We examined selection of den-sites (n = 26) by Indian foxes (Vulpes bengalensis) in a highly modified short-grassland landscape in central India (Jan-May, 2010). At the scale of the home-range, defined by an 800 m circular buffer around den sites, we examined the effect of land-cover edges and roads on selection of sites for denning using a distance-based approach. At the smaller den-area scale, defined by a 25 m x 25 m plot around den and paired available sites, the effect of microhabitat characteristics was examined using discrete-choice models. Indian foxes selected den-sites closer to native grasslands (t = -9.57, P < 0.001) and roads (t = -2.04, P = 0.05) than random at the home-range scale. At the smaller scale, abundance of rodents and higher visibility increased the odds of selection of a site by eight and four times respectively, indicating resource availability and predator avoidance to be important considerations for foxes. Indian foxes largely chose to den in human-made structures, indicated by the proportion of dens found in earthen bunds (0.69) and boulder piles (0.27) in the study area. With agricultural expansion and human modification threatening native short-grassland habitats, their conservation and effective management in human dominated landscapes will benefit the Indian fox. The presence of some human-made structures within native grasslands would also be beneficial for this den dependent species. We suggest future studies examine the impact of fragmentation and connectivity of grasslands on survival and reproductive success of the Indian fox.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Copyright of this article belongs to Plos
Subjects: C Publications by ATREEians > G Journal Papers
Divisions: Publications by ATREEians > Journal Papers
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Date Deposited: 06 Dec 2016 06:25
Last Modified: 06 Dec 2016 06:25

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