Results so far
Around the change of the millennium, there were only 50 arctic foxes in Sweden, Norway and Finland combined. Today there are about 200 in Sweden alone, largely owing to conservation efforts that are constantly being evaluated using scientific methods. But the populations vary from year to year depending on food supplies. And in Scandinavia, food primarily consists of lemmings. Lemmings are rodents that reproduce in four-year cycles. During a good lemming year, the arctic foxes are able to feast and gain strength. A year without lemmings means that most cubs that are born will starve to death. And only about half of the adult foxes survive. The number of arctic foxes for 2018 will be updated as soon as new data is compiled.
Find the latest data here. And follow the instagram account fjallravenprojektet (in english).
Rasmus Erlandsson has been involved in the Save the Arctic Fox project since 2008, first as a field worker and later as a doctoral student. He’s studied how variation in the number of lemmings affects the arctic fox. For example, how many fox cubs are born, their chances of survival and how the quality of a den site affects litter size and the number of foxes that live together. Rasmus also developed a method to investigate landscapes in great detail in order to assess where the best hunting grounds for a fox looking for lemmings would be.
Research on arctic foxes here in Scandinavia doesn’t just benefit local populations. The scientific results are published in international journals, so they can help inform broader conservation efforts around the world. Therefore, trying to save the arctic fox could help save other threatened species as well.