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Seasonal variation of the diet of the Fennec fox, Vulpes zerda (Canidae, Carnivora), in Algeria




International audience The seasonal diet of the Fennec fox, Vulpes zerda, has been investigated in Ben Ahmed, Ghardaïa region (northern Sahara, Algeria) using scat content analysis. In 130 scats collected from autumn 2010 to spring 2011 we identified 726 animal prey items belonging to 17 orders, 30 families and 75 species. The main preys were insects (554 individuals), followed by mammals (142 individuals) and arachnids (14 individuals). However, biomass was dominated by mammals, (86.5 %), followed by insects (10.7 %) and birds (1.2 %). Similar patterns were observed among the seasons, but the frequencies of the main contributing taxa were significantly different. Autumn was the season when mammals were the most consumed; in winter Isoptera were the most numerous preys; in spring Orthoptera and Arachnida were abundantly fed upon, whereas predation of Coleoptera, squamates and birds were similar along the seasons. These results confirm that the fennec fox is an opportunistic predator.

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