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Origins and antiquity of the island fox (Urocyon littoralis) on California's Channel Islands

  • Torben C. Rick (a1), Jon M. Erlandson (a2) (a3), René L. Vellanoweth (a4), Todd J. Braje (a5), Paul W. Collins (a6), Daniel A. Guthrie (a7) and Thomas W. Stafford (a8)...

Abstract

The island fox (Urocyon littoralis) is one of few reportedly endemic terrestrial mammals on California's Channel Islands. Questions remain about how and when foxes first colonized the islands, with researchers speculating on a natural, human-assisted, or combined dispersal during the late Pleistocene and/or Holocene. A natural dispersal of foxes to the northern Channel Islands has been supported by reports of a few fox bones from late Pleistocene paleontological localities. Direct AMS 14C dating of these “fossil” fox bones produced dates ranging from ∼ 6400 to 200 cal yr BP, however, postdating human colonization of the islands by several millennia. Although one of these specimens is the earliest securely dated fox from the islands, these new data support the hypothesis that Native Americans introduced foxes to all the Channel Islands in the early to middle Holocene. However, a natural dispersal for the original island colonization cannot be ruled out until further paleontological, archaeological, and genetic studies (especially aDNA [ancient DNA]) are conducted.

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Corresponding author. Fax: +1 (202)357 2208. E-mail address: rickt@si.edu

References

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Keywords

Origins and antiquity of the island fox (Urocyon littoralis) on California's Channel Islands

  • Torben C. Rick (a1), Jon M. Erlandson (a2) (a3), René L. Vellanoweth (a4), Todd J. Braje (a5), Paul W. Collins (a6), Daniel A. Guthrie (a7) and Thomas W. Stafford (a8)...

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