IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Spatial variation in food availability predicts extrapair paternity in the arctic fox


  • Cassandra Cameron
  • Dominique Berteaux
  • France Dufresne


Extrapair paternity (EPP) is described in many socially monogamous species, but within-population variability in its frequency is poorly documented. Availability and distribution of food may influence polyandrous behaviors, either directly by affecting the need for paternal care or indirectly via their effect on population density. We quantified the frequency of EPP in a population of arctic foxes (Vulpes lagopus), a predominantly socially monogamous species with high paternal investment. We then tested whether spatial (presence of a goose colony) and temporal (cycles of lemmings) variations in food availability were linked to variations in mating systems within the population. From 2003 to 2008, we studied the mating systems of arctic foxes on Bylot Island (Nunavut, Canada) by combining molecular analyses with behavioral observations during cub rearing. Although the dominant social mating system was monogamy, at least 31% of cubs with known social father were born from extrapair matings (in 10 of 38 litters sampled). Likelihood of EPP was associated with food availability. It was greatest (86%) at the center of the goose colony and decreased sharply with increasing distance from it. EPP can thus be frequent in the socially monogamous arctic fox, and intraspecific variability in extrapair matings is strongly correlated with food availability during cub rearing. Copyright 2011, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Cassandra Cameron & Dominique Berteaux & France Dufresne, 2011. "Spatial variation in food availability predicts extrapair paternity in the arctic fox," Behavioral Ecology, International Society for Behavioral Ecology, vol. 22(6), pages 1364-1373.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:beheco:v:22:y:2011:i:6:p:1364-1373

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Bates, Douglas & M├Ąchler, Martin & Bolker, Ben & Walker, Steve, 2015. "Fitting Linear Mixed-Effects Models Using lme4," Journal of Statistical Software, Foundation for Open Access Statistics, vol. 67(i01).
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:oup:beheco:v:22:y:2011:i:6:p:1364-1373. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Oxford University Press) or (Christopher F. Baum). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.