International conference on arctic fox biology. Vålådalen Mountain Station, Sweden. February 16‐18th 2009. Program, abstract and lists of participants
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In the 3rd International arctic fox conference, we present a scientific program with a broad scope ranging from genetics and general biology to community ecology and conservation issues. The topics covered are of high relevance for science, management authorities, rangers and public with special interest in conservation of the arctic fox. The arctic fox is a flagship species for the arctic and alpine environment. Being at the top of the food chain, the arctic fox is a suitable indicator species giving notice and signals of ecosystem state and change. Displaying a broad spectrum of adaptations to the tundra ecosystem, the arctic fox is of significant interest regarding several behavioural and physiological aspects. The arctic fox show an astonishing variation in several life history characters, e.g. with a litter size from 1 – 18 cubs and a social organization from a breeding pair to complex social groups. Such contrasts are mostly not found within a single species and make the arctic fox especially suitable to test several life history theories. Further, the arctic fox is a species of conservation concern. Although found in numbers of several 100 000 throughout its whole circumpolar range in the northern hemisphere, local arctic fox populations at the edge of its former distribution are declining. In Fennoscandia, the arctic fox is critically endangered and threatened to go extinct. Despite soon 80 years of protection the population has rather continued to decline, the population has become fragmented and several small populations have recently gone extinct. Today, there are approximately 120 adult arctic foxes in Fennoscandia, of which approximately 50 are found in Sweden, 50 in Norway, and less than 10 in Finland. There are also populations on islands in the Bearing Strait that are threatened. In some cases foxes are severely invested by parasites and in others they are killed for different reasons. Environmental pollution is also a threat were the species is feeding on marine resources. In addition, the arctic fox is a species of economic value related to their valuable fur with hunting in Iceland, Russia, Canada and Alaska, although the hunting has decreased considerably in all areas. This conference will discuss all issues of arctic fox biology and hopefully all participants will get a deeper understanding of this fascinating carnivore.