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Abstract from O’Connor Julie M., Srivastava Sanjeev K., Tindale Neil W., Burnett Scott E. (2020) From carrion to Christmas beetles: the broad dietary niche of the red fox in a hybrid coastal ecosystem in south-eastern Queensland. Australian Journal of Zoology.

The diet of the European red fox (Vulpes vulpes) was investigated through analysis of 1185 scats collected between 2010 and 2014 from coastal South-east Queensland, Australia.

By both frequency of occurrence and volume, its diet was dominated by terrestrial arthropods, marine arthropods, vegetation and birds, although the remains of the short-tailed shearwater (Ardenna tenuirostris) consumed as carrion dominated the latter. Terrestrial arthropods, primarily insects of the order Coleoptera, were eaten all year (61% frequency of occurrence, FO) but varied seasonally (35–67%FO), mostly due to the consumption of large numbers of Christmas beetles (Anoplognathu s spp.) in the summer months. Marine arthropods consisted almost entirely of ghost crabs (Ocypode spp.) and seasonal variation in consumption was evident (33–72%FO) and likely correlated with ghost crab abundance.

Fruit and berries were an important food item for foxes all year but also varied seasonally (30–65%FO). The opportunistic diet of this fox population is discussed in the context of dietary differences, but common opportunism, reported in other Australian and overseas studies.

Read the full article on the CSIRO website.