Friday, April 15, 2022

FIF Taking Applications for 2022 Research Grant

This is a GPS radio collar being prepped to be worn by an island fox this summer. Katie Elder was FIF's 2021 Research Grant recipient and she will be investigating territory size on Santa Rosa Island. More on her work

Friends of the Island Fox is taking applications for our 2022 FIF Research Grant now through August 29, 2022.


What will you uncover about island foxes?

Research in island fox ecology is an investment in the future and island fox survival. Not only is this work important for island foxes and the Channel Islands, but also for other endangered species with small population sizes in confined geographic habitats. An island doesn't have to be surrounded by water, it can be a confined habitat surrounded by desert, a city, or some other physical barrier.

Population viability calculations used for island foxes have been applied to the Sierra Nevada red fox.

See more on Current FIF Funded Research Projects

Recently published island fox discovery 

Discussion on island foxes and island spotted skunks

Update on island fox microbiome research

Tuesday, April 05, 2022

Island Foxes and Beach Foods

In 2018 Juliann Schamel was the recipient of Friends of the Island Fox's first Research Grant. Her investigation of island fox diet through stable isotopes in whiskers has evolved and deepened to look for connections between diet and surviving drought conditions. 

In 2019 FIF continued to fund Schamel's research as she followed the foxes and the potential of "beach foods" in their diet. It is no coincidence that the island fox above is in a beach area. 

If you look closely at the pile of kelp washed up on the beach, or "beach wrack," you'll see island fox foot prints all around it.

photo courtesy of Nick Schooler, UCSB
Combining her stable isotope research with collaborators at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Schamel has revealed that some island foxes are making use of food resources connected to sandy beaches. Tiny arthropods called "beach hoppers" live in the sand and emerge to eat the kelp that washes up on the beach. Look closely and you will see a group of them feeding on the edge of the kelp blade pictured. 

Some island foxes are eating these tiny, quick moving creatures. If you've turned over a clump of beach wrack and seen little hopping critters, commonly referred to as sand fleas, you've seen beach hoppers. They are not fleas at all; they are more closely related to shrimp.

Juliann Schamel recently presented a poster at the 2022 Wildlife Society Conference. POSTER

And her paper Diet of a threatened endemic fox reveals variation in sandy beach resource use on California Channel Islands with Henry M. Page, Marine Science Institute, UCSB, et. al. was published in PLOS ONE. Read the Paper

Your support for FIF helped fund this important research. The island fox and the beach hopper demonstrate an intertwining of terrestrial and marine ecosystems on the Channel Islands.

Saturday, April 02, 2022

Island Foxes, the U.S. Navy, and Island Spotted Skunks

"Date with a Fox" February 2022

Island foxes on San Clemente Island live with an active U.S. Navy Base, while island foxes on Santa Cruz Island live with island spotted skunks.

FIF's February virtual program "Date with a Fox" featured:

Holly Gamblin
a biologist with the Institute for Wildlife Studies  on San Clemente Island. Gamblin provided a rare inside-look at the island foxes on the U.S. Navy island. Few civilians have access to San Clemente Island.


Research biologist Ellie Bolas shared her masters' thesis studies on the interactions between island foxes and island spotted skunks. Island spotted skunks live only on Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa Islands. Very little is known about the ecology and behavior of island spotted skunks. How do these two small predators co-exist on the islands?

If you missed the program you can watch the video here:

To participate in FIF's "Date with a Fox" in May - join our donor list or subscribe to our e-newsletter.

See past "Date with a Fox" programs