Off-highway vehicle (OHV) use is popular for outdoor recreation across the United States, with especially high levels of participation in Arizona and the American Southwest. Road networks related to OHV recreation have the potential to influence kit fox (Vulpes macrotis) space use intensity. To evaluate the potential impacts of OHV road networks to kit fox space use, we conducted a study during 2010–2013 in 2 areas of the Sonoran Desert in central Arizona. We used an observational approach to determine the importance of road density to kit fox space use, relative to other measured environmental variables. We monitored 22 collared individuals and used linear mixed models and an information-theoretic approach to develop models of intensity of space use for seasons of relatively low (e.g., 33% of yearly OHV use observed) and high (e.g., 67% of yearly OHV use observed) OHV use. We found road density to be the most important predictor of space use for kit foxes, relative to other measured environmental variables. Space use was negatively associated with road density during winter (Oct–Mar), which coincided with kit fox breeding, denning, and pupping activities and was the season of relatively higher OHV use. Road density in OHV use areas is an important seasonal predictor of, and can negatively influence, kit fox space use. OHV road networks may lead to effective habitat loss for kit foxes and managers must consider how OHV recreational opportunities should be balanced with habitat conservation for species like kit fox.
- kit fox
- off-highway vehicle
- Vulpes macrotis
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Nature and Landscape Conservation