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Decline and Recovery of the Island Fox: A Case Study for Population Recovery

Series: Ecology, Biodiversity and Conservation

By: Timothy J Coonan, Catherin A Schwemm and David K Garcelon

212 pages, 40 figs, 3 maps, 13 tabs

Cambridge University Press

Paperback | Jul 2010 | #185588 | ISBN-13: 9780521715102
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £45.99 $56/€51 approx
Hardback | Jul 2010 | #185381 | ISBN-13: 9780521887113
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £97.99 $120/€110 approx

About this book

The first account of the natural history and ecology of the smallest canid in North America, which describes the conservation efforts applied to save this species from extinction. Island foxes occur only on the California Channel Islands, and populations on four of the islands nearly went extinct in the 1990s due to human-mediated predation and disease. Recovery of these populations required intense conservation actions such as captive breeding and reintroduction, and large-scale ecosystem manipulation.

These actions were successful due in large part to extraordinary collaboration among the scientists, managers, and public advocates involved in the recovery effort. Some aspects of island fox biology, characteristic of the 'island syndrome' helped facilitate recovery, including high productivity and an apparent adaptation to periodic genetic bottlenecks. The book illustrates the vulnerability of island ecosystems and species and the efficacy of cooperative conservation measures.

This book provides the first comprehensive description of the evolution, genetics, diseases, reproductive biology, food habits and habitat use, and behavioral ecology of the island foxes. Most of the information presented was gained through actual recovery efforts. This work is a major contribution to literature on endangered species recovery, conservation biology, and mammalogy. Highly recommended. R.L. Smith, emeritus, West Virginia University for Choice Magazine


1. Introduction; 2. Evolution and genetics; 3. Social structure, reproduction, and population dynamics; 4. Food habits, habitat use, and activity patterns; 5. Golden eagles and island fox declines on the Northern Islands; 6. Ecosystem recovery on the Northern Islands: predators and prey; 7. Disease and island fox declines on Catalina Island; 8. Recovery actions: captive breeding; 9. Recovery actions: reintroduction and translocation; 10. Reproductive biology Cheryl S. Asa; 11. Diseases of island foxes Linda Munson; 12. The role of zoos, education, and the public in island fox recovery; 13. Managing recovery: cooperative conservation, politics, and the Endangered Species Act; 14. The ecological role of island foxes; 15. Conclusion; References.

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Cathy Schwemm is a lecturer at California State University, Channel Islands in the Department of Environmental Science and Resource Management, and runs her own ecological consulting company. She obtained her BS from Colorado State University, her MS from California State University, Northridge, and her Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Cathy worked for the National Park Service for nearly 20 years, including 14 years at Channel Islands National Park. In 1993 she began the island fox monitoring program for the Park Service, and has been a member of the Island Fox Conservation Working Group since 1999. In 2005 she and Dave Garcelon co-edited the Proceedings of the Sixth California Island Symposium. She currently serves on the board of directors of Friends of the Island Fox. Tim Coonan is a biologist for the US National Park Service at Channel Islands National Park, where he has directed the terrestrial monitoring and restoration programs since 1992. He has been studying island foxes for 17 years. Since 1999 Tim has directed the park's island fox recovery program and has led the multi-agency Island Fox Conservation Working Group. Tim's efforts to recover island foxes have been recognized by the National Park Service, who twice named him as its Pacific West Region Natural Resource Manager of the Year. Tim has authored or co-authored over 25 publications on island foxes. Tim holds a BS in Biology from the University of Notre Dame, and an MS in Biology from Northern Arizona University. Tim has worked for the National Park Service for over 25 years. Prior to his work at Channel Islands National Park Tim worked at Death Valley National Park, where he studied desert bighorn and pupfish. David Garcelon is the founder and President of the Institute for Wildlife Studies, headquartered in Arcata, California. He has been involved in conservation programs around the world, including Japan, Russia, Swaziland, Kazakhstan, and the Mariana Islands. He holds an MS degree in Wildlife Management from Humboldt State University where he is an associate faculty member and both lectures and serves on graduate committees. David began studying island foxes in 1988 and has worked with all of the six subspecies. His research has included long-term work on population demography, captive breeding, movement patterns, disease exposure, and behavior. Along with the Center for Biological Diversity he co-signed the petition to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to provide federal protection for four species of the island fox under the Endangered Species Act. David sponsored the first meeting of experts to examine the data associated with population declines of island foxes on the northern Channel Islands and has been active in the Island Fox Working Group since its inception. He continues to be involved in research and recovery efforts for the island fox, as well as several other federally listed species such as the San Clemente loggerhead shrike, San Clemente sage sparrow, and desert tortoise. David is currently working to restore wolverine populations in California and is helping develop new techniques for monitoring wildlife populations using automated telemetry.

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