Predicting the potential distribution of the sierra nevada red fox in the Oregon cascades

Cate B. Quinn, Jocelyn R. Akins, Tim L. Hiller, Benjamin Sacks, C. B. Quinn, B. N. Sacks, J. R. Akins, T. L. Hiller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The Sierra Nevada red fox Vulpes vulpes necator is a native subspecies associated with subalpine regions in the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges of California and Oregon. In the past century, the Sierra Nevada red fox experienced a major range contraction and decline in California. However, the number, size, and connectivity of populations extant in Oregon remain unclear. This knowledge gap impedes efficient monitoring and hinders development of a cohesive conservation strategy for the subspecies. The historical range is large and includes rugged terrain with low accessibility; therefore, a predictive model is needed to facilitate more comprehensive and systematic surveys in the future. We initiated a multiagency collaborative effort to survey portions of the range in the Oregon Cascades during 2011–2016 (verified genetic and photographic detections) and to assemble existing sighting reports dating back to 1985 (unverified), which we used to create Maxent models to predict the potential distribution of Sierra Nevada red fox within Oregon. To identify optimal levels of model complexity, we compared cross-validation accuracy of models that varied in levels of protection against overfitting (regularization). The highest-performing models utilized intermediate regularization, and included minimum January temperature and land-cover type. Regardless of regularization or data set (verified detections, all putative detections), all models agreed in predictions of a high-probability region covering approximately 3,470 km2 or 6% of the Cascade region, corresponding to the high-elevation portion of the crest. With the exception of a gap between Mount Hood and Mt. Jefferson, this core area of predicted presence was continuous along the north–south extent of the crest, suggesting a capacity for high connectivity among observed clusters of occurrence. Use of modeled potential distributions in future survey design will improve efficiency of field data collection, facilitating more precise evaluations of the distribution, abundance, and genetic integrity and connectivity of Sierra Nevada red fox in Oregon.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)351-366
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Fish and Wildlife Management
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018


  • Cascade Range
  • Maxent
  • Oregon
  • Sierra Nevada red fox
  • Species distribution model
  • Vulpes vulpes necator

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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