Vulpes vulpes cascadensis - Merriam, 1900
Cascade Red Fox
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.74.19360
Element Code: AMAJA03013
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Mammals - Carnivores
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Mammalia Carnivora Canidae Vulpes
Genus Size: C - Small genus (6-20 species)
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Wilson, D. E., and D. M. Reeder (editors). 1993. Mammal species of the world: a taxonomic and geographic reference. Second edition. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC. xviii + 1206 pp. Available online at: http://www.nmnh.si.edu/msw/.
Concept Reference Code: B93WIL01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Vulpes vulpes cascadensis
Taxonomic Comments: Merriam (1900) originally classified montane red foxes in Washington as Vulpes fulva cascadensis. Dalquest (1948) concurred with this taxonomy. Kamler and Ballard (2002) considered montane red foxes in the Washington and Oregon Cascade Mountains to be V. v. cascadensis. However, Sacks et al (2010) later genotyped individuals from the Washington Cascade Mountains and found that they are distinct from Oregon red foxes, which are more closely related to the V. v. necator, the Sierra Nevada fox. Akins (2017) found additional support for this conclusion.
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5T1
Global Status Last Reviewed: 18Dec2017
Global Status Last Changed: 18Dec2017
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by calculator
Rounded Global Status: T1 - Critically Imperiled
Reasons: A Washington state Candidate Species and Natural Heritage Critically Imperiled Species, endemic to WA. The subspecies is restricted to high elevations in the Cascades. Range is small and has undergone precipitous declines in abundance and distribution over the last few decades. Some populations appear to have gone extinct. It faces numerous threats from climate change, habitat loss, human winter recreation, collisions with vehicles, and canid competitors (Atkins 2017, NPS: https://www.nps.gov/articles/cascade-fox.htm). T1 is warranted based on current knowledge and continued population declines.
Nation: United States
National Status: N1 (18Dec2017)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Washington (S1)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 1000-20,000 square km (about 400-8000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: 4,500km2 is best estimate available. Endemic to Washington; restricted to upper mountain forest, subalpine parkland, and alpine meadows of the Cascade Range. Occupancy was calculated 25.2% of surveyed area in the southern portion (south of I90 highway) of the range (Akins 2017). Occupancy likely to be lower in the northern portion because of the paucity of detections (n = 9) in the NCE (north of I90 highway) during the past 4 decades (Akins, pers. obs., 2017)

Area of Occupancy:  
Area of Occupancy Comments: Alpine meadow and parkland are suitable habitat. Area of these types are assumed to be 10% or less of the range extent. In the southern Cascades, their distribution depends on continuity of subalpine parklands and upper montane coniferous forests between 1,100m to 2,100m (Akins 2017).

Number of Occurrences: 1 - 5
Number of Occurrences Comments: Akins (2017) conducted intensive surveys in the southern portion of the range, and examined population status and genetic structure. She found that the Cascade red foxes in southern Washington represent a single, small interbreeding population that has retained its indigenous genetic integrity (mtDNA lineage). Individual foxes occur on the Gifford Pinchot National Park (Indian Heaven, Mount Adams, and Goat Rocks Wildernesses; Hamilton Buttes, Darland Mountain, and surrounding areas), Wenatchee and Snoqualmie National Forests (William O Douglas and Norse Peak Wildernesses, and Manastash Ridge), at Mount Rainier National Park, and Crystal Mountain Resort; but not on Mount St Helens or the Dark Divide Roadless Area (between Mount St Helens and Mount Adams). Results showed that highly-related individuals maintained large ranges (e.g., a single individual occurring from Mount Rainier to Mount Adams), perhaps to accommodate the marginal, high-elevation habitat they occupy year-round.
 
Despite intensive surveys of mesopredators throughout the north portion of the range (north of I90 highway) only single individuals (n = 9) have been detected since 1980. These include the following sites (from south to north): near Lake Cle Elum (Sasse Ridge, 2008; Boulder Creek, 2011: 47.44270, -121.05422, 2920 ft), near Ingalls Peak (Lake Ann, 2009), Benson Creek (2017: 48.27825, -119.92773, 3200 ft), south of Twisp (Lookout Mountain, 2011), Rainy Pass (2001, 2016), Twisp River Road (Poplar Flats Campground, 2013), and Conconully (1981, lynx trap).

Population Size: Unknown
Population Size Comments: No data are available on population size.

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: None to very few (0-3)
Viability/Integrity Comments: Akins (2017) estimates of genetic effective population size, Ne, in the southern population varied depending on sample size but in all cases the upper 95% CI was <20, which is very small (e.g., Funk et al. 1999; Sacks et al. 2010). The expectation based on Ne of 20 is that a population will experience a loss in heterozygosity of approximately 25% over 10 generations (e.g., Waples 1989), which would bring heterozygosity (He = 0.60) to 0.45 in 10 generations. While estimates of genetic effective population size, Ne, in the southern population varied depending on sample size but in all cases the upper 95% CI was <20, which is very small (e.g., Funk et al. 1999; Sacks et al. 2010). The expectation based found that individuals move across large distances and interbreed, the small genetic effective size of the population raises concerns of potential future losses of genetic diversity that may threaten its long-term persistence. Akins (2017) found no evidence of matrilineal or nuclear introgression by nonnative red foxes into the CRF population, suggesting the genetic integrity of this small, isolated population has been maintained. However, such hybridization has occurred rapidly in other montane red fox populations.
 
In addition, small size and isolation may be affecting populations in the North Cascades Ecosystem to a greater extent, given the paucity of detections over the past several decades. Montane red fox populations have been undetected and unstudied elsewhere before the advent of genetic sampling in conjunction with remote camera surveys (e.g. Statham et al. 2012). The northern distribution and status remains unclear yet confirmed detections, including very recently, suggest the persistence of small population(s).

Overall Threat Impact: Very high - high
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Mount Rainier National Park and Mount Adams contains a significant percentage of the known southern occurrence, and individuals face a major threat from acclimation to humans resulting in begging and exposure to vehicle traffic. Significant threats to all populations include expanding coyote populations, which increase the risk of predation and competition. In addition, historical habitat loss and fragmentation due to timber extraction and road building may limit connectivity between populations. Also, increased rain-on-snow events that close access to the subnivean where foxes forage on small mammals may be treated prey availability. These events may also facilitate the movement of coyotes in the subalpine/upper montane forest habitats and reduce the competitive advantage of the Cascade red fox. Additional future threats include habitat loss due to encroachment of woody vegetation into subalpine meadows (significant foraging grounds for the foxes), and other unknown alterations of the montane biome due to changing patterns of temperature and precipitation.
 
Hybridization, and subsequent genetic introgression of lowland red fox lineages, is a possible threat to the integrity of this unique subspecies. It has not been documented in the Cascade red fox to date, but has occurred rapidly in other montane red fox populations.
 
Populations are small enough, especially in the northern portion, that stochastic events, such as outbreaks of disease, arrival of novel competitors, increased recreation, or impacts of climate change could threaten survival.

Short-term Trend: Decline of 50-80%
Short-term Trend Comments: Populations have experienced precipitous declines over the last several decades, and some populations have gone extinct (Akins 2017).

Long-term Trend: Decline of >70%

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Moderately vulnerable
Intrinsic Vulnerability Comments: Most individuals probably reproduce in their first year, and other subspecies of the species travel widely enough to be good colonists. This subspecies appears able to move through areas of timber, but dense timber may partially obstruct movement and colonization.

Environmental Specificity: Very narrow. Specialist or community with key requirements scarce.
Environmental Specificity Comments: Specialized for occupying subalpine and alpine habitat (Higbee 2012). Restricted to high elevation forests, subalpine habitat, and alpine meadows.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Inventory Needs: A priority need is a survey in the northern portion of the range, particularly on the east slopes of the Cascades, to determine occurrence and population status.

Distribution
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Global Range: (1000-20,000 square km (about 400-8000 square miles)) 4,500km2 is best estimate available. Endemic to Washington; restricted to upper mountain forest, subalpine parkland, and alpine meadows of the Cascade Range. Occupancy was calculated 25.2% of surveyed area in the southern portion (south of I90 highway) of the range (Akins 2017). Occupancy likely to be lower in the northern portion because of the paucity of detections (n = 9) in the NCE (north of I90 highway) during the past 4 decades (Akins, pers. obs., 2017)

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.

Map unavailable!:
Distribution data for U.S. states and Canadian provinces is known to be incomplete or has not been reviewed for this taxon.
Endemism: endemic to a single state or province

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States WA

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County (based on available natural heritage records unless otherwise indicated) Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
WA Chelan (53007)+, Kittitas (53037)+, Lewis (53041)+, Okanogan (53047)+, Pierce (53053)+, Skamania (53059)+, Yakima (53077)+
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
17 Methow (17020008), Upper Yakima (17030001), Naches (17030002), Lower Yakima, Washington (17030003), Middle Columbia-Hood (17070105), Klickitat (17070106), Upper Cowlitz (17080004), Upper Skagit (17110005), Puyallup (17110014), Nisqually (17110015)
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A subspecies of montane red fox  
Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Alpine, Forest - Conifer, Forest - Mixed, Grassland/herbaceous, Woodland - Conifer
Habitat Comments: Restricted to upper mountain forest, subalpine parkland, and alpine meadows of the Cascade Range.
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Stewardship Overview: The Cascade Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes cascadensis) endemic to the state of Washington, where it is restricted to the upper mountain forest, subalpine parkland, and alpine meadows of the Cascade Range. Populations have experienced precipitous declines over the last several decades, and some populations have gone extinct. New ecological investigations aimed at estimating demographic rates and home range sizes, and determining predator-prey relationships, food habits, and fine-scale habitat use and movements are needed. This is especially critical in the face of climate change as this taxon is adapted to snowy habitats (upper montane, subalpine, and alpine habitats) that are being altered by climate change. In addition, genetic sampling and analyses of adjacent nonnative red fox populations will improve our ability to assess the threat of hybridization. Estimates of demographic rates will provide a timeline for potential future losses of genetic diversity.

Minimizing clearcutting or extensive thinning, and concomitant road building within the elevational range of the CRF (4000ft?7000ft) will reduce habitat fragmentation and invasion of coyotes. Closing unused roads and maintaining roads to the minimum standard possible will reduce human conflicts including vehicle collisions. Prescribed fire in upper montane forests may increase forage availability for small mammal prey and create openings for this cursorial predator to effectively hunt. Maintaining the trapping ban on USFS lands, which contain the majority of CRF populations, will continue to be an important management action. Developing and implementing a credible survey and monitoring strategy to determine CRF distribution throughout its potential range and monitor trends in population sizes and genetic diversity is essential. In addition, determining demographic rate will clarify a timeline for predicted future losses of genetic diversity and help to understand prospects for long-term persistence.

Biological Research Needs: New ecological investigations aimed at estimating demographic rates and home range sizes, and determining predator-prey relationships, food habits, and fine-scale habitat use and movements are needed. This is especially critical in the face of climate change as this taxon is adapted to snowy habitats (upper montane, subalpine, and alpine habitats) that are being altered by climate change. In addition, genetic sampling and analyses of adjacent nonnative red fox populations will improve our ability to assess the threat of hybridization. Estimates of demographic rates will provide a timeline for potential future losses of genetic diversity.
Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 18Dec2017
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Rev. Atkins, J. and A.D. Davidson (2017); Fleckenstein, J.W. (2011)
Management Information Edition Date: 11Jan2018
Management Information Edition Author: Akins, J. and Davidson, A. (2018)

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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  • Akins, J. R. 2017. Distribution, genetic structure, and conservation status of the Cascade Red Fox in Southern Washington. PhD dissertation, University of California, Davis. 144 pp.

  • Aubry, K.B. 1983. The Cascades red fox: distribution, morphology, zoogeography, and ecology. PhD dissertation. University of Washington.

  • Aubry, K.B. 1984. The recent history and present distribution of the red fox in Washington. Northwest Science 58(1):69-79.

  • Aubry, K.B., M.J. Statham, B.N. Sacks, J.D. Perrine, and S.M. Wiseley. 2009. Phylogeography of the North American red fox: vicariance in Pleistocene forest refugia. Molecular Ecology 18:2668-2686.

  • Aubry, KB, MJ Statham, BN Sacks, JD Perrine, and SM Wiseley. 2009. Phylogeography of the North American red fox: vicariance in Pleistocene forest refugia. Molecular Ecology. 18:2668-2686.

  • Aubry, KB. 1984. The recent history and present distribution of the red fox in Washington. Northwest Science. 58(1):69-79.

  • Aubry. KB. 1983. The Cascades red fox: distribution, morphology, zoogeography, and ecology. PhD dissertation. University of Washington.

  • Dalquest. W. W. 1948. Mammals of Washington. University of Kansas Museum Natural History Publ. 2:1-444.

  • Kamler, J.F. and W. B. Ballard. 2002. A review of native and nonnative red foxes in North America. Wildlife Society Bulletin 30(2):370-379. Online at http://www.janute.com/publications (accessed 31 Mar. 2011).

  • Kamler, J.F. and W. B. Ballard. 2002. A review of native and nonnative red foxes in North America. Wildlife Society Bulletin. 30(2):370-379. online at http://www.janute.com/publications. Downloaded 31 Mar. 2011.

  • Lariviere, S., and M. Pasitschniak-Arts. 1996. VULPES VULPES. Mammalian Species (537):1-11.

  • Mt. Rainier National Park. 2009. Proposal to investigate the rare Cascade fox in Washington's Cascades parks - A mesocarnovore at risk in the human interface. Mt Rainier National Park.

  • Perrine, J. D., III. 2005. Ecology of red fox (Vulpes vulpes) in the Lassen Peak region of California, USA. Ph.D. dissertation, University of California, Berkeley. Available at www.carnivoreconservation.org/files/thesis/perrine_2005_phd.pdf.

  • Perrine, J. D., L. A. Campbell, and G. A. Green. 2010. Sierra Nevada red fox (Vulpes vulpes necator): a conservation assessment. USDA Forest Service, R5-FR-010.

  • Perrine, J.D. 2005. Ecology of the red fix (Vulpes vulpes) in the Lassen Peak region of California, USA. PhD. thesis. University of Colifornia, Berkeley. Online at www.carnivoreconservation.org/files/thesis/perrine_2005_phd.pdf . Downloaded 31 March 2011.

  • Perrine, JD, LA Campbell, and GA Green. 2010. Sierra Nevada red fox (Vulpes vulpes necator); a conservation assessment. USDA Forest Service. R5-FR-010. 42 pp.

  • Sacks, B. N., M. J. Statham, J. D. Perrine, S. M. Wisely, and K. B. Aubry. 2010. North American montane red foxes: expansion, fragmentation, and the origin of the Sacramento Valley red fox. Conservation Genetics 11:1523-1539.

  • Sacks, BN, MJ Statham, JD Perrine, SM Wiseley, and KB Aubry. 2010. North American montane red foxes: expansion, fragmentation, and the origin of the Sacramento Valley red fox. Conservation Genetics 11:1523-1539.

  • Statham, M.J., B.N. Sacks, K.B. Aubry, J.D. Perrine, and S.M. Wisely. 2012. The origin of recently established red fox populations in the United States: translocations or natural range expansions? Journal of Mammalogy 93(1):52-65.

  • Wilson, D. E., and D. M. Reeder (editors). 1993. Mammal species of the world: a taxonomic and geographic reference. Second edition. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC. xviii + 1206 pp. Available online at: http://www.nmnh.si.edu/msw/.

  • Wilson, D. E., and D. M. Reeder (editors). 2005. Mammal species of the world: a taxonomic and geographic reference. Third edition. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore. Two volumes. 2,142 pp. Available online at: http://vertebrates.si.edu/msw/mswcfapp/msw/index.cfm

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