Home Institution

Villanova University

Publication Date

Fall 2016

Program Name

Iceland and Greenland: Climate Change and The Arctic


Island arctic fox populations are considered to carry the future wellbeing of the global population. Iceland has an island population with two arctic fox eco-types: western/coastal and eastern/inland. The western fox population is protected by the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve; no such protection exists for the eastern fox population. Food sources in both regions differ from each other and vary from summer to winter, but reliable and ample winter time food sources are the most critical for fox population’s survival. A literature review on arctic foxes and their prey species in the face of climate change is important for understanding possible future scenarios for Iceland’s arctic fox populations. Bird species comprise over one-third of the western arctic fox’s diet in wintertime. Of these, the rock ptarmigan and guillemots (Brünnich’s and Common) alone make up over 50% of the bird species consumed. This narrative review aims first to synthesize studies on how these three avian species will likely react to climate change and second to analyze those reactions’ implications for the future wellbeing of the western Icelandic arctic fox. This study finds overall negative effects of climate change on the bird species and implied negative impacts on the western Icelandic arctic fox population, and thus suggests protection of both Icelandic arctic fox eco-types for the sustainability of the Icelandic population as a whole.


Animal Sciences | Animal Studies | Environmental Studies | Place and Environment | Scandinavian Studies | Zoology



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