Variability in body mass and sexual dimorphism in Danish red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) in relation to population density

Sussie Pagh*, Mette Sif Hansen, Birger Jensen, Cino Pertoldi, Mariann Chriél

*Corresponding author for this work

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    For the first time, temporal variability in body size and sexual dimorphism is revealed in foxes Vulpes vulpes from the same geographical area at over time. The weights and lengths of 552 Danish foxes were documented during three different periods: 1965–1977, 2012–2014 and the winter of 2015/2016. During the first and the third periods, the fox population was below the carrying capacity due to hunting pressure and canine distemper, respectively. Adult males were significantly (p < 0.01) heavier (mean weight: 7.7 kg and 7.5 kg respectively) in periods of low population density, i.e. 1965–1977 and compared to 2015/2016, compared to 2012–2014, when population density was high (the mean weight: 6.8 kg). However, no significant differences were found in the weight of females. Hence, sexual dimorphism ranged from 7.6 to 3.6 in adult foxes in low and high-density periods, respectively. During the winters of 2012–2014, no difference in body fat measured by rump fat thickness (RFT) was found between age groups and genders in contrast to 2015/2016, when RFT was significantly (p < 0.001) larger in adult females (mean RFT: 0.77 cm) than in adult males (mean RFT = 0.58cm).
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalZoology and Ecology
    Issue number1
    Pages (from-to)1-9
    Publication statusPublished - 2018

    Bibliographical note

    This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License


    • Body size
    • Body weight
    • Fat
    • Mating strategies
    • Mating behaviour
    • Fox
    • Population structure


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