Energy Cost of Running in an Arctic Fox, Alopex lagopus


  • Eva Fuglei Norwegian Polar Institute, N-9296 Tromsø
  • Nils A. Øritsland Outhere AS, 1361 Osteraas



Arctic Fox, Alopex lagopus, heart rate, metabolic rate, net cost of running, starvation, Svalbard, laboratory experiment, ecophysiology


This work was conducted to determine effect of season and starvation on metabolic rate during running in the Arctic Fox (Alopex lagopus) on Svalbard (78°55’N, 11°56’E), Norway. Indirect calorimetry was used to measure metabolic rate of foxes running on a treadmill and heart rate was monitored using implanted radio transmitters. The relationship between heart rate and metabolic rate was also examined. Metabolic rate increased with running speed. In July the metabolic rate during running almost fitted general equations predicted for mammals, while it was up to 20% lower in January, indicating seasonal variation in metabolic rate. There was a significant positive linear relationship between heart rate and weight specific metabolic rate, suggesting that heart rate can be used as an indicator of metabolic rate. Starvation for 11 days decreased the net cost of running by 13% in January and 17% in July, suggesting that a starved fox runs more energetically efficient than when fed. Heart rate measured in July decreased by 27% during starvation. Re-feeding reversed the starvation-induced reduction in metabolic rate and heart rate during running almost up to post-absorptive levels. The present results are from one fox, and must be considered as preliminary data until further studies are conducted.