Culpeos are generalists when it comes to habitat selection. They can be found in the high-altitude foothills of the Andes and in the valleys surrounding them. Culpeos have been reported from 0 to 4500 m above sea level. Their habitat ranges from the forests of western and southern South America to the desert of the Patagonia region. Scrub and grassland are also occupied by culpeos. (Jimenez and Novaro, 2004; Novaro, 1997; Walker, et al., 2007)
- Terrestrial Biomes
- desert or dune
- savanna or grassland
- scrub forest
- Range elevation
- 0 to 4500 m
- 0.00 to 14763.78 ft
Lycalopex. Body weight ranges from 3.4 to 14 kg, with larger individuals occurring at higher latitudes, and males larger and heavier on average than females (11.65 kg compared to 7.82 kg, respectively). Head plus body length ranges from 445 to 925 mm and tail length from 305 to 493 mm. Culpeos vary in color, with lighter individuals in the northern parts of the range. The chin and belly are white to light tawny. The ears, neck, legs, flanks, and top of the head are tawny or reddish-brown. The area around the tail is usually darker, sometimes dark grey. The tail is bushy and grey with a black tip and a darker area near the rump. In the winter months, the fur becomes longer and denser. Larger size and reddish-brown fur distinguish culpeos from similar species. (Jimenez and Novaro, 2004; Novaro, et al., 2009; Novaro, 1997)is the largest member of the genus
- Sexual Dimorphism
- male larger
- Range mass
- 3.4 to 14 kg
- 7.49 to 30.84 lb
- Range length
- 445 to 925 mm
- 17.52 to 36.42 in
Not much is known about the mating system of Lycalopex griseus, are monogamous, with the mated pair defending an exclusive territory. A second female may assist in taking care of young. Another member of this genus, Lycalopex fulvipes, also appears to be monogamous. (Jimenez, 2006; Nowak, 1999). Closely related Argentine gray foxes,
- Key Reproductive Features
- seasonal breeding
- gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)
- Breeding interval
- Culpeos breed once yearly.
- Breeding season
- Mating occurs from early August to October.
- Range number of offspring
- 3 to 8
- Average number of offspring
- Range gestation period
- 55 to 60 days
- Average weaning age
- 2 months
- Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
- 1 years
- Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
- 1 years
Not much is known about parental care in (Novaro, 1997). The species is generally solitary, but it has been reported that both parents might play a role in the care of offspring. As in other mammals, females nurse and care for the young extensively after gestation.
Not much is known about the lifespan of culpeos. The oldest culpeo discovered in the wild was estimated to be 11 years old. However, the method of aging was not defined, so the accuracy of this estimate is unknown. (Jimenez and Novaro, 2004)
- Range lifespan
- 11 (high) years
- Range lifespan
- Range territory size
- 3.7 to 800 km^2
Culpeos occupy home ranges with little or no overlap. Home range size is extremely variable. Chilean culpeos in a semi-arid region had an average home range size of 3.7 km2, while desert dwelling culpeos in highland salt flats and lakes had home ranges of up to 800 km2. In north central Chile, the home range of female culpeos averaged 8.9 km2, 2.5 times the size of the average male home range. In southern Chile, the average annual home range was 9.8 km2, with no significant difference between sexes. Home range size appears to depend on habitat and prey availability. (Jimenez and Novaro, 2004; Novaro, 1997; Salvatori, et al., 1999)
Communication and Perception
- Other Communication Modes
- scent marks
Culpeos are omnivores and dietary generalists. Prey range from wild ungulates, hares, sheep, and small mammals to insects, birds, and lizards. Culpeos also eat carrion and fruit. Specific examples of items in a culpeo’s diet are Octodon degus, Oryctolagus cuniculus, and carrion of llamas and vicugnas. (Jimenez and Novaro, 2004; Novaro, 1997; Walker, et al., 2007)
- Animal Foods
- terrestrial non-insect arthropods
- Plant Foods
Culpeos do not have any complex anti-predator adaptations, because they have few natural enemies. Pumas (Puma concolor) may prey on them occasionally, but this is not an important cause of mortality. (Jimenez and Novaro, 2004)
- Anti-predator Adaptations
- Known Predators
- pumas (Puma concolor)
Culpeos serve important ecological roles. As predators on many different species, culpeos play a role in population control, and as prey and host, they provide energy to higher trophic levels. Also, culpeos eat fruit and are important in seed dispersal. The seeds of peumo (Cryptocarya alba) and Peruvian pepper (Schinus molle) have been recorded to germinate at higher rates if defecated by culpeos. Additionally, culpeos assist in biodegradation, by eating the carrion of other species. (Jimenez and Novaro, 2004; Novaro, 1997; Walker, et al., 2007)
- Ecosystem Impact
- disperses seeds
Economic Importance for Humans: Positive
Culpeos have long been hunted and trapped for their fur, providing an important source of income to inhabitants of Chile and Argentina. Also, culpeos eat carrion, which provides an important service to the ecosystem that could be seen as a benefit to humans. (Jimenez and Novaro, 2004)
- Positive Impacts
- body parts are source of valuable material
Economic Importance for Humans: Negative
Culpeos occasionally feed on livestock, such as sheep and chickens, and are said to be a major cause of sheep predation in Patagonia. (Travaini, et al., 2001)
Lisa Peterson (author), Michigan State University, Barbara Lundrigan (editor), Michigan State University, Tanya Dewey (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.
living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.
uses sound to communicate
young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state; they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.
- bilateral symmetry
having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.
helps break down and decompose dead plants and/or animals
an animal that mainly eats meat
flesh of dead animals.
Found in coastal areas between 30 and 40 degrees latitude, in areas with a Mediterranean climate. Vegetation is dominated by stands of dense, spiny shrubs with tough (hard or waxy) evergreen leaves. May be maintained by periodic fire. In South America it includes the scrub ecotone between forest and paramo.
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
active at dawn and dusk
having markings, coloration, shapes, or other features that cause an animal to be camouflaged in its natural environment; being difficult to see or otherwise detect.
- desert or dunes
in deserts low (less than 30 cm per year) and unpredictable rainfall results in landscapes dominated by plants and animals adapted to aridity. Vegetation is typically sparse, though spectacular blooms may occur following rain. Deserts can be cold or warm and daily temperates typically fluctuate. In dune areas vegetation is also sparse and conditions are dry. This is because sand does not hold water well so little is available to plants. In dunes near seas and oceans this is compounded by the influence of salt in the air and soil. Salt limits the ability of plants to take up water through their roots.
- active during the day, 2. lasting for one day.
animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.
- female parental care
parental care is carried out by females
forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.
offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).
- male parental care
parental care is carried out by males
having the capacity to move from one place to another.
This terrestrial biome includes summits of high mountains, either without vegetation or covered by low, tundra-like vegetation.
- native range
the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.
active during the night
an animal that mainly eats all kinds of things, including plants and animals
rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.
- scent marks
communicates by producing scents from special gland(s) and placing them on a surface whether others can smell or taste them
- scrub forest
scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.
- seasonal breeding
breeding is confined to a particular season
remains in the same area
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
uses touch to communicate
that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).
Living on the ground.
the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.
- tropical savanna and grassland
A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.
A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.
- temperate grassland
A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.
uses sight to communicate
reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.
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Novaro, A. 1997. Pseudalopex culpaeus. Mammalian Species, 558: 1-8.
Novaro, A., C. Moraga, C. Briceno, M. Funes, A. Marino. 2009. First records of culpeo (Lycalopex culpaeus) attacks and cooperative defense by guanacos (Lama guanicoe). Mammalia, 73: 148-150.
Nowak, R. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World, Sixth Edition. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
Salvatori, V., G. Vaglio-Laurin, P. Meserve, L. Boitani, A. Campanella. 1999. Spatial organization, activity, and social interactions of culpeo foxes (Pseudalopex culpaeus) in north-central Chile. Journal of Mammalogy, 80: 980-985.
Travaini, A., R. Peck, S. Zapata. 2001. Selection of odor attractants and meat delivery methods to control Culpeo foxes (Pseudalopex culpaeus) in Patagonia. Wildlife Society Bulletin, 29: 1089-1096.
Walker, R., A. Novaro, P. Perovic, R. Palacios, E. Donadio, M. Lucherini, M. Pia, M. Lopez. 2007. Diets of three species of Andean carnivores in high-altitude deserts of Argentina. Journal of Mammalogy, 88: 519-525.