Home Science Arctic foxes help create habitats as ‘gardeners’ of the tundra

Arctic foxes help create habitats as ‘gardeners’ of the tundra

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Arctic foxes help create habitats as ‘gardeners’ of the tundra

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Arctic foxes appear to contribute to the greening of the area around their dens

Arctic foxes appear to contribute to the greening of the area around their dens

Shutterstock/Charles Bergman

Satellite images of plants growing around the dens of Arctic foxes add to the evidence that the foxes are “ecosystem engineers” whose activities create habitat for other organisms.

Against the harsh tundra, the dens of Arctic foxes (Vulpes lagopus) stand out like islands of green. Called “gardens of the tundra”, they are covered in distinctive, lush vegetation, often attributed to nutrients in the soil concentrated there from the foxes excrement and prey. The foxes also perturb …

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