Decomposing prey carcasses, feces and urine around Arctic fox dens make small patches of the Arctic green.
The backyard of the Arctic fox's den becomes green - thanks to waste and carrion
CBC Radio ·
Quirks and Quarks8:43Arctic Fox Turns Stark Tundra Into Green Space - 2016/06/04 - Pt. 2
A study of active Arctic fox dens in northern Manitoba has provided an explanation for the unusual growth of vegetation around the sites. Dr. James Roth, a food web ecologist from The University of Manitoba, found that the foxes have unwittingly become 'ecosystem engineers'.
The combined effect of the foxes and their many cubs urinating and defecating around the dens - together with the decomposing prey carcasses - have increased the nutrients in the soil, which supports more vegetation.
The plants, in turn, attract a variety of herbivores, including caribou, hares and lemmings, while the prey remains bring scavengers, including wolves, ravens and polar bears.
- Paper in Nature Scientific Reports - CBC Newsstory - National Geographicstory